It’s gotta be the shoes

By JASON MAYFIELD / Guest Columnist

I love Mondays, even those with faculty meeting after the last bell, because I get another chance to wear my favorite pair of running shoes: a pair of 16-year-old loafers.

Odds are probably good that if you have a pair of 16-year-old anythings, then that “Sweet 16” will not only learn to drive but also end up your companion through some tight spot. My loafers earned the title of running shoes about 30 minutes before the 1999 LSU-Alabama football game when I realized the phone to the press box wasn’t working — and it was my fault.

Believing that time was short — besides the looming kickoff there was that Y2K thing — I decided I had to run from the stadium to the basketball coliseum, the home of media relations and the phone that needed to be forwarded. I took the elevator from the press box down to ground level, perhaps the only company going down the operator had until the fourth quarter (“You do realize you were at the right spot, right, sweetie?” “Umm… Yes, I sort of forgot something”). You’re familiar with Rocky Balboa running through the streets of Philadelphia as the music played and people shouted “Go Rocko!” Well, running down Bryant Drive (the sidewalk was too crowded) right before a major college football game is a bit different. After you get through the immediate crowd and the shouts of “Geaux Tigers” and “Roll Tide,” there’s a lost, bewildered bunch that can’t figure out why someone is running the opposite direction than everyone else is going and running as if his life depended on it.

Fortunately, all ended well. The shoes held, the phone was forwarded, and I made it back with about five minutes left in the first quarter (thanks to the referee in the white shirt that stops the game after every five plays for a commercial break — or so it seems). Students, like shoes, possess talent that can be brought out through necessity. If we as parents or as teachers remove obstacles when our children make mistakes, then we may be denying an opportunity for surprise, a chance for learning and “invent-on-the-fly” moments to take place.

Jason Mayfield is a gifted instructor at Columbiana Middle School.