Honoring those who taught is lesson in gratitude

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By Sherri Gardner Howell
Blount Today

Conversations around the tables were of who’s teaching where, what happened to who and where in the world have you

Conversations from the podium were of gratitude, greatness and gardenias -- Jungle Gardenia, to be exact.

The occasion was the 12th annual Retired Teacher Breakfast at Green Meadow Country Club, sponsored by Maryville Rotary. The morning project and celebration of education came about during the tenure of Carol LaRue’s presidency and has continued to be a big event in the lives of retired teachers and Rotarians.

"The year I was president, my club supported me in doing this," LaRue said. "We focus on four areas in Rotary -- Club, Community, Vocation and Internal. This fit in our Vocational program and was a change to honor retired teachers for their great service."

LaRue continued, "The concept was that they didn’t get wealthy doing this, but they have a lot of riches and have given riches to the community. Our community is, in great part, a reflection of what these teachers have brought to us."

Now a much anticipated event, LaRue says they will begin to get phone calls every fall if the invitations go out a little late.

"Teachers start calling," she said, with a smile. "They want to make sure we’re still going to have it."

The club plans for 100 guests, and most every seat was filled. In a welcome by the club’s director of vocational services Jeff Ebertling, Ebertling showed-off the good job his teachers did by reciting all 23 helping verbs, followed by 21 linking verbs.

"We recited them and learned them in 7th grade," Ebertling said. "I still can’t get them out of my head!"

Club president Bob Lash told the group that teachers do make an impact on their students.

"One of my teachers, David Talley, made an impact on my backside," Lash said, with a laugh.

Keynote speaker for the morning was State Rep. Doug Overbey. Overbey talked about "the power of three Ps -- Prayer, Politics and Public Education." Overbey talked about the impact of prayer in his life when he faced major illnesses as a child and the powerful influence his home-bound teachers had on his life.

"Every time I smell Jungle Gardenia, I think of Ms. Bowman," Overbey related. "I was 5-years-old, and she came to my house everyday to bring me my assignments after I couldn’t go back to her class."

Overbey said that in large part, whatever he has accomplished in legal and political circles "can be attributed to the teachers who kept me focused and motivated."

Many of the teachers attending the breakfast said they appreciated the attention and gratitude. "It’s also good to get to see everybody," said Frances Brickell, who is 92.

"It is such an honor that they do this for us," agreed Carole Sneed.

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