Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

For teachers, rewards are defined over time

The blue bags full of goodies stretched across the floor in Destiny Church's fellowship hall in Ruskin Friday morning.

And thanks to the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, every bag was for a teacher.

In Plant City on Thursday, new teachers performed skits inside the Strawberry Festival Grounds Expo Building.

And then they lined up to receive an assortment of prizes that the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce acquired for its annual new teacher coffee — a tradition that spans some 25 years and started a countywide trend.

Similar salutes for educators took place across the county this week. In Riverview, East Tampa, Temple Terrace and South Tampa, business owners, community activists and folks who just care gathered to show appreciation for the men and women who have chosen this noble profession.

But a better reward is in store for these new teachers. They won't receive it this month or this year, and it may be a decade before the special acknowledgement arrives.

But if they show up for class every day with care, concern and compassion in their heart, I'm certain this special gift will arrive.

Frank Menendez received his gift last week.

Frank Garcia, noted paleontologist and curator of the Paleo Preserve in Ruskin, was preparing for a lecture at the Mulberry Phosphate Museum last week when Menendez approached and asked Garcia, "Do you remember me? I'm Frank Menendez, I was your music teacher at Cuesta Elementary School"

Garcia did remember and his acknowledgement of Menendez turned into a tearful embrace.

"I kept saying, 'Mr. Menendez, Mr. Menendez,' and he kept sobbing and so did I as my breath got one more 'Mr. Menendez' out."

Such reunions are the great rewards that await teachers. Sooner or later, the students whose lives they have touched return to say thanks.

At some point, adults begin to take inventory of the people who have made a difference in their lives. Invariably, a teacher holds a high spot on that list and they make an effort to reach back and say thanks.

I love to share Tyrone Keys' story with teachers, which I first wrote about in 2009 but is worthy of repeating.

At Dawson Elementary in Jackson, Miss., Keys' sixth-grade teacher, Mary Hagan, offered inspiration by having him write a paper about the NFL draft and how he could dream of playing pro ball.

With a friendly manner and caring soul, she connected with Keys and his classmates.

But at the end of that first semester, Hagan stepped down from the position. You see, it was 1970, the first year of integration in Jackson, and Hagan was a white teacher at all-black Dawson.

People opposed to integration filled her life with turmoil. Her husband's employer told him if his wife didn't stop teaching at Dawson, he would lose his job.

So Hagan gave an emotional farewell to the class, returning to Baton Rouge, La., with her husband so he could reclaim his previous job.

She read the students a poem about how much she loved them. She cried, the students cried and Keys said he and a classmate had to hold each other up walking home from school.

As fate would have it, Keys did indeed go on to play football, helping his high school team to a state title, starring for Mississippi State and playing a key role for the 1985 Chicago Bears team that won the Super Bowl.

But he never forgot Hagan. He tried to find her telephone number in the Baton Rouge phone book when Mississippi State played LSU. He wanted to give her tickets when the Bears played in the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Finally, months before he was scheduled to be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, he connected with Hagan. She had become a principal and had spent years telling her teachers that their reward would come years down the road.

She never knew that Keys, who now does nonprofit work in Tampa, carried the inspiration she provided in his heart all those years. She never knew he had gone on to play football and had sought her out for years. When they connected, Keys created a defining moment for her career.

In my heart, I believe such defining moments await all teachers who truly work for outcomes, not income.

Back in my hometown of Tallahassee, my 1982 high school newspaper adviser, Michele Berlow, finally stepped down after being in the classroom for more than 30 years.

I told her she may be retired, but she will always be my teacher.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments
Forecast: Abundant sunshine, low humidity make for ideal weekend in Tampa Bay

Forecast: Abundant sunshine, low humidity make for ideal weekend in Tampa Bay

Folks around Tampa Bay won’t have many excuses to stay indoors this weekend.It’s going to be a bright weekend with sparse cloud cover, resonably comfortable temperatures and plenty of sunshine, according to the National Weather Service.Temperatures o...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

PLANT CITY — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect in a string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City.Deputies are searching for Majar L. Jones, 43, of Orlando.Jones may still be in a stolen 2002 green Ford F-150 with...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Another sunny day today with high temperatures in the low 80s, according to 10Weather WTSP. Friday brings the possibility of rain, and the weekend brings the heat: Sunday’s high is in...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Aside from former Florida State safety Derwin James, the most likely first-round pick from a state college is ex-Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan.He hopes, at least."That would (stink) if I didn't," Bryan said last month at Florida's pro da...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

TAMPA — As the Tampa Bay Lightning wait for its next playoff opponent to come to town, the city’s business community — large and small — say they’ve already won this NHL postseason.At WestShore Plaza this week, with blue and white banners surrounding...
Updated: 2 hours ago
SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

TAMPA — Standing in front of an audience of several thousand scientists, data wonks, geospatial intelligence analysts and other big thinkers, Army Gen. Tony Thomas drew some laughs when he talked about the time he felt the urge to toss Google CEO Eri...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

YBOR CITY -- History lives here, inside the J.C. Newman Cigar Co.Machines manufactured in the 1930s are still used to pack and roll the cigars, and the sights and smells are throwbacks. Tobacco bits litter the weathered wooden floor, and a pungent od...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Let’s discuss biosolids waste. I promise, it won’t be gross or boring.No, this is more of a how-did-we-lose-money-again bedtime story.Our tale begins around 2006 when St. Pete officials began exploring a biosolids project. The city was eventually goi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

TAMPA —These smart phones and computers and internet are big annoyances to Sister Madonna Buder.Every time she turns around, there's a message or a request or a question coming into one of her devices from somewhere in the world."What's all the...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick-up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Updated: 9 hours ago