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Back To School


Hard to believe it’s that
time of year again. “Back
when I was a kid” we didn’t
go back until the Tuesday
after Labor Day, and that
was after a 24-hour dose
of the Jerry Lewis MDA
Telethon. Dean Martin,
Sammy Davis Jr., Wayne
Newton, Tony Orlando, and
the aforementioned Jerry
Lewis. Man, those were the
good ole days. And, it was
cool at the bus stop in early
September. Now, kids go
back in the middle of the
dadgum summer.
Teachers go back to
school, too. And that’s what
I’m writing about. I love
teachers. I really do. None
of us would be who we are
without teachers. And, once
a teacher, always a teacher. I
still address my teachers as
I did when I was in school.
It makes me uncomfortable
when I hear some of my
friends call our teachers by
their first name. I just can’t
do. Maybe it’s just a military
I think I mentioned last
week that I was right in
the middle of speaking at
a lot of teachers’ institutes,
also called inservices. It
was quite a run. I met so
many amazing educators,
as well as the wonderful
support staff. I met coaches,
custodians, counselors, and
cafeteria crews. I met bus
drivers and band directors.
It was just awesome. It takes
everyone on the team to
ensure a child has a proper
My first one took place
in Darien, Georgia, for
McIntosh County Schools.
That was a very neat and
historic little town in Southeast
Georgia not too far
from Brunswick. Dr. Barge,
the superintendent, took me
out to a eat at a nice little
restaurant right on the water.
Shrimping boats lined the
river. Of course, I went full
Forrest Gump when I saw
It went well, but they
were kind of quiet. The auditorium
wasn’t that big, but
still, they sat in the back and
on the ends, so the whole
middle section was empty.
Comedians and certain types
of speakers feed off the
energy of the crowd. I don’t
know why but teachers and
preachers are bad about that.
You think they’d be fighting
to sit up front. Anyway, I
enjoyed it and got a lot of

great feedback. I really liked
Dr. Barge, too. This is likely
his last year in education, so
he wanted to do something a
little different. I’m thankful
he chose me.
The second one was for
Huntsville City Schools,
which was the largest one
I’d ever done. It was at the
Von Braun Center—a huge
concert venue. There were
around 3000 people there.
They were so pumped.
Faculty and staff from each
school wore matching tshirts
and sat together. Some
brought their bands, as
each school vied to win the
coveted “Spirited Award.”
There was so much energy.
Mrs. Finley, the superintendent,
is an Auburn graduate
and did her internship
under Mrs. Dukes at Opelika
High School in the spring
of ‘92. “She taught me
everything I needed to know
to be a classroom teacher,”
she said.
I had a great time, but my
speech just couldn’t match
the energy and loudness that
they had. I got one message
on Facebook that was critical
of some of my subjects.
I’d never gotten anything
like that before. I’ve gotten
a couple of negative
emails from readers—both
were from earlier this year.
My intent was good, but I
understood their gripes, but
this one blew my mind. Still,
I received a standing ovation
from the other 2,999 folks
in attendance, so I guess I
did okay.
The third one was a
big surprise. I did Russell
County Schools, just down
the road. They were awesome!
There are so many
good things going with
that system. “They are on
the move, and ain’t no one
stopping them now” was
their theme. Dr. Coley, the
superintendent, has done
an amazing job. I’ve heard
from numerous friends who
are employees of the system
raving about the dynamic
leadership at central office.
It was a country theme,
goofy looking Hee Haw
horse and everything. Dr.
Coley and crew had everyone
pumped. Proportionally,
they were as loud as
the Huntsvillians, if that’s a
word. I had to leave shortly
after my portion, but they
fixed me a BBQ plate that
was catered by a restaurant
in Phenix City. That was so
nice of them to do so. It was
quite tasty, too! I felt so at
home. I hated I had to leave
The weekend brought a
welcomed and much needed
break, but I was right back
at in Monday morning for
Sylacauga City Schools. My
friend Dr. Segars gave me
this wonderful opportunity.
He is a retired Lieutenant
Colonel from the U.S. Army
and a former educator at
Auburn High School.
I had a good time there,
as well. They mayor even
gave me a lapel pin. It was
in a nice auditorium, and everyone
listened, learned, and
laughed. It was good, but it
was kind of quiet. People
were spread out.
The last one is the one I
was worried about. It was
for Dale County Schools at
Flowers Theater in Ozark.
Once again, the teachers
filled in from the back.
Thankfully, by the time we
started, they had filled in
all the way up to the second
row. Mr. Baker, the superintendent,
welcomed me with
open arms. I met a whole
lot of good people and even
saw a friend from Opelika.
Let me just tell you that
as grateful as I am for the
other opportunities, this
was far and away the best
one. Perhaps it was just
the acoustics of the theater,
combined with the room
being full. They laughed
loud, hard, and long when I
wanted them to, and they listened
intently when I needed
them to. I’m hard on myself,
but it was the only A+ of the
week. Dale County Schools
is a remarkable school
district. Those kids and
families are lucky to have
such dedicated teachers and
So, teachers, I love you. I
thank you for what you do.
When it gets tough, remember
why it is you do what
you do. When you remember,
it makes it a whole lot
easier to get up each and go
do what you do. Read that
I hope you all have an
amazing school year.