The third annual Honors Breakfast was held at Thomson High School last Friday to recognize certain graduating seniors and their outstanding educators. Forty-two students and 34 adults, principals and central office administrators attended the breakfast held in the school's media center.
Students who have maintained a cumulative GPA of 90 or better on the rigorous college or dual seal track were invited to the breakfast and asked to select one person in the school system who was influential in their development. Assistant Principal Lynn Cato, who organizes the event each year, said the students write a thank-you letter to the support person they selected. Ms. Cato said the adults just receive an invitation to the breakfast, and they don't know who selected them until they open the letters.
"The things that come out in the letters isn't 'thank you's,'" Mrs. Cato said. "It's relationships. The teachers don't do the job to make money. They do it because they love kids. So, when the kids take the time to write them a note, they'll keep that forever. It means more to the teacher than any raise the legislature can give them."
And that is just how Joyce Shurling felt when she read her letter. Although Mrs. Shurling has been the front office receptionist in the school system for 34 years, this was her first time to be invited to the honors breakfast.
Mrs. Shurling was selected by Mackenzie Mullins, who said Ms. Shurling welcomed him to the school "and has been a joy every time I talk to her."
"I was surprised and honored," Mrs. Shurling said. "But I was honored more by the fact that I think he loves me, and I know I love him."
Some students selected teachers from lower grades and who have already retired. Many teachers were selected by more than one student.
"It's so neat, because it gives us a chance at the high school to say 'thank you' to the teachers at the other levels," Ms. Cato said. "Because they have the students before we do, and they send them to us all ready to continue their education."
Algebra teacher Steve Smith retired only three months ago, but found himself back at the high school for the honors breakfast. Mr. Smith was selected by Jonathan Talkington and Will Anderson because they said Mr. Smith was "never boring and we always had a good time in his class."
"I did try to make it interesting," Mr. Smith said. "Being invited to the breakfast was very uplifting. It brightened my day."
During the breakfast, many adults shed tears as they learned how they influenced their students. Thomson Elementary media specialist Natalie Wilson had to wipe her eyes as she read her letter, which she said was "very moving and very touching." Ms. Wilson was selected by Candace Rouse.
"I've had my apprenticeship with her this year," Candace said. "And after seeing her work, I really know that's the field I want to go into. I want to become a teacher just like her."
The breakfast of muffins, biscuits, eggs, coffee and juice was provided by a private donor.