Taking a leap of faith

Ames and Rick Rhoades are helping to build Pelham's future. (Contributed)

Ames and Rick Rhoades are helping to build Pelham’s future. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Finding Ames and Rick Rhoades at Pelham High School recently brought back memories. Years ago, Ames Rhoades worked in the PHS office while Rick Rhoades challenged students in his Advanced Placement history classes.

The couple’s oldest son, Bobby, was already out on his own. Their youngest son, John, a Pelham High School student, impressed his teachers.

Today, a pilot and a proud PHS graduate, John Rhoades was already flying in high school. My children were little—and I marveled at Ames and Rick Rhoades’ parenting.

“John started flying seriously in the ninth grade and flew solo at 16. He flew solo from Bessemer to Ft. Walton Beach before he was allowed to drive in downtown Birmingham,” Rick Rhoades said.

Parents who’ve mastered balancing between protecting and empowering, the Rhoades gave their children both protective parameters and freedom to fly.

Rick Rhoades is respected by teachers.

“He was one of the best teachers I’ve worked with,” PHS history teacher Gwen Acre said. “Rick impressed me with his passion for history.”

A college coaching opportunity took the family away from Pelham. When Rhoades retired, he and Ames returned. While the entire family has lived many places, currently both sons and their families live nearby.

As meetings began about Pelham forming a school system, Rhoades attended.

“It’s important for people to step forward, voice their support and willingly participate in selecting our school system’s leaders,” Rhoades said. “Having the opportunity to serve is a privilege. Like everyone on the board, my focus is serving our city and its students.”

On Monday, Jan. 13th, PHS teachers were instructed to notify Shelby County Schools by Friday, Jan. 17th their preference for placement at PHS or Helena High School for 2014-15.

The next afternoon, Rhoades and Paul Howell, vice-president of Pelham’s Board of Education, met with PHS teachers to update them about Pelham City Schools’ progress.

“Our goal was to inform and encourage,” said Rhoades.

“At some point, folks, you’re taking a leap of faith,” Rhoades told teachers.

Rhoades is right. Whether teachers are placed at PHS or HHS, we leap into the unknown along with our students.