Whitley shining example of good parenting

Published 9:10 pm Saturday, October 24, 2009

When Mitchell Tate started third grade at Shelby Elementary, he didn’t realize his new school would become a special place for him or his mother, Linda Whitley.

“It was so obvious when we moved to the Shelby area that there was something very special going on at Shelby Elementary,” said Whitley.

“The teaching staff is so dedicated and fun to be around that I enjoyed being there myself,” she said. “Volunteering was a joy and I looked forward to spending my Thursdays at the school.”

Every Thursday for three years, Whitley would do whatever was needed at Shelby.

She made copies, did cutouts and helped with classroom parties. Last year for the fifth–grade party, she made 60 caramel apples, a messy labor of love.

One of the most labor intensive jobs Whitney did was behind the scenes. She was responsible for counting all of the soup labels, water labels and box tops.

“There were thousands and thousands of them,” declared Whitley.

New playground equipment for the school was the reward for her hours of counting.

As Whitley volunteered more than 10 hours a week for three years, she watched with pride as her son excelled at his new school. Tate graduated with all A’s for his elementary schooling. He was on the Shelby news crew as an anchor, the morning program that announced the daily news to the school. He was chosen as the “Most Outstanding Student” in third and fourth grade.

A rare opportunity for Tate was when he was chosen to be the Shelby representative to the People to People Youth Leadership Conference in Washington D.C.

“I enjoyed rooming with my two roommates in a room by ourselves,” said Tate. “I met people from all over the world and even had dinner at the Saudi Arabia embassy.”

But perhaps the most exciting thing for Tate was at his fifth–grade graduation ceremony when he saw his mother receive her own award, Parent of the Year.

“I was so excited,” said Tate. “She deserved it.”

Whitley was thrilled to have won the award. “Of all the honors and awards I have ever achieved, this one means the most to me,” she said.

For Linda Whitley and Mitchell Tate –– a new start, a new school, a new home – became a time of achievement and special rewards for mother and son.

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by e–mail at phoeberobinson@bellsouth.net.