Teacher appreciation week marked by gratitude

By Connie Nolen / Community Columnist

“Your teachers have elevated you,” said the Dean of the University of Alabama Law School, gesturing toward the law school faculty—and beyond them, toward the unseen past—“and I mean all the way back to your kindergarten teachers,” Dean Brandon said.

On the way into the graduation ceremony, my family is surprised to find Leslie Richards. We had daughters and sons in the same PHS graduating classes. More importantly, my younger daughter, Faith, who is now twenty and was in Richards’ fifth grade class lights up and rushes to hug her former teacher with genuine affection and delight.

The valedictorian will revisit the theme of gratitude for teachers, families, and classmates. The commencement speaker, a graduate of the Class of ’79 will dig deeper, reminding students “if you ever find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Her memories of her best teacher—her father—a small town attorney who led by example reveals her deep appreciation for her dad’s lessons.

Entering the lobby earlier, the student hosts offered me the full graduation program to go along with the law school program. My niece, who took an education degree Friday afternoon, is in this program. Later, I’ll note that my son is in this program also—and I’ll wish that I had a digital copy so I could easily count how many times Pelham is in the program.

As my husband drove us to Tuscaloosa this morning, I responded to Julie Nelson’s email thanking those who had helped with the senior luncheon.

“Thanks for the great job that you and the other senior sponsors do Julie. As the mom of three Pelham grads & the aunt of three more, they’ve all appreciated and realized, even more since moving beyond high school, how unique and intentional their PHS experience was. You guys go beyond the call of duty and I appreciate you so much.”

This first week in May is teacher appreciation week. As Justin Nolen graduated from law school to begin this week, our appreciation for his teachers—all the way back to kindergarten—was palpable.