Congratulation to our 2013 Teacher of the Year, Mr. Ricky Brantley!
A message from Mr. Brantley:
During my 23 years of being an educator, I have learned one thing that allows a teacher to be successful. I will share with you that one thing later. I have been asked many times in my teaching career, "Why teach"? "You have so many opportunities you could pursue!" I will explain by telling this story.
The first year I taught, I had a student that was six foot four inches tall, weighed about three hundred pounds and was adopted. He came into my class every day and put his head on his desk and never said a word to anyone. I was not prepared for this. I pulled all my notes from education psychology and found nothing to help me! The only thing I knew to do was continue to recognize him each day as a part of our classroom family. You see, I knew how he felt; I was also adopted and could see the confusion and pain he was going through!
One glorious day he came in and asked me if he could have some of my time and talk with him. I agreed to talk. We began to discuss his grades and he shared with me that he was going to fail Physical Education. I asked "How in the world do you fail Physical Education?" He told me that the teacher said that if he did not have the proper shoes by the next class that he was going to fail. I looked down at his shoes and saw the holes in what we called penny loafers. I invited him to meet me after school that day. I drove him to the local shoe store and told him to go pick any kind of tennis shoes he wanted. He looked at me as though I was playing a joke of some sort! I assured him I was serious and he should go ahead. It took that young man about 30 minutes to choose the right ones. Then we purchased a few pair of socks to go with the shoes!
We got in the car and I began to drive him home. I gazed over at him expecting to see a smile, but found a tear! I asked if he was okay. He told me he had never had a white man to do anything for him! I responded, "You have now." By this time, I was tearing up trying to stay focused on driving! When we arrived at his house, he invited me in to meet his grandmother! I stepped into the house and realized holes were in the floor! The holes were so big you could see chickens running under the house! He introduced me to his grandmother and told her what we had done. Then with a big smile on his face ,he showed her the shoes! She looked at me and she smiled! I hugged her neck and told her I was proud of her grandson. I told them it was time for me to go.
I walked out to my car, got in, and looked in the rearview mirror. There he stood displaying a smile like I have never seen before! As I drove off it hit me, I teach because of love.
Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.