Letter to the Editor 8-16-19
Where has the summer gone? Though it seems to begin earlier than I remember, another school year is upon us. This year, however, there will be something missing...or should I say someone. For the first time in 40 years, Mrs. Nelson will not be walking the halls of the Concordia Elementary School. Some of her earliest students would remember Miss McGuire, and though she was unable to have children of her own, one could argue no one had more “kiddos” than Mrs. Nelson. I quickly did the math and came up with over 700 students who were actually assigned to her, but no doubt she taught several hundred more, as many years as she and other teachers were within the grade group would swap students according to curriculum.
Due to health reasons, Mrs. Nelson retired in 2013...or so she thought. It became obvious almost immediately that her “retirement” would be short lived, for she was a teacher at heart. Initially, she would substitute where ever needed, and having experienced the ins and outs of school life for oh so long, that included not only the classroom, but also helping in the office as well. These past years she taught small groups of students how to read better so they could learn even more. She found purpose and great pleasure in helping her kids “get it.”
Outside of parents, I think of no one who has the possibility to affect the life of a child more than an elementary school teacher. In many cases what begins as a formal teacher/student relationship morphs over time into friendship. I observed this almost daily when Mrs. Nelson would interact with those who had been her students as we bumped into them during the daily activities of life. I too have been the beneficiary of these relationships. I can't even begin to estimate the number of high school and college graduations and weddings that we have attended over the years, all because of the relationships that began in grade school.
Understanding the potential impact of teachers within our society, the Dana J. Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fund is being established to provide scholarships to Concordia High School graduates who will be pursuing an education in education, with a preference to elementary education. The scholarship will be administered by the Community Foundation for Cloud County. Because of the generous response of family, friends and the entire community, I am humbled to say that the threshold for full funding has been met, and a scholarship will be awarded this next year. To those of you who have given, I offer sincere thanks. If this is a cause that you are interested in supporting, additional contributions can be made any time and will serve to maximize the level of scholarship available.
There may be no nobler profession than that of an educator. As we walk the streets and sidewalks of Concordia, may we look for opportunities to honor the men and women who walk the halls of our local schools and pour their hearts into the children and youth of our community. May we prayerfully offer thanks to those who, for nine months a year, spend the majority of their waking hours caring for and teaching our children.