Farewell Tours….

When I travel and especially when the travel is home to Virginia, I refer to my trips as “farewell tours”. Many very popular veteran music artists for example, promote their final world tours as  “farewell tours” to communicate to their fans that this is their final concert performance.

My “farewell tours” have a very different meaning and pertains to visiting family and friends…not fans. Of course I am not some superstar promoting ticket sales but someone just blessed with a great family and several valued friends. My family has been important to me all my life and many of my friends go back as many as 60 years. Therefore, my visits are called “farewell tours” because I am far too familiar with the fact that things can happen unexpectedly in life and seeing my family and friends again in the future is not a guarantee. We have all lamented that we do not know what tomorrow may bring and that tomorrow is not promised to any of us. My “farewell tours” are joyous reunions and visits, affirmations of years of friendship and fellowship, and another chance to recall the past with family and friends while basking in the sunlight of their presence.

The highlights of my recent trips back to Virginia included visiting four of my five living aunts. These are really great aunts and really special people who have achieved much in their lives. Three of the five were educators.  One of them is a legendary NASA icon.  All have greatly influenced their children and many others to pursue education as a career. These aunts have been important role models for students and adults throughout their lives including my own.

Other trip highlights included attending two school reunions. One reunion included Ms. Lawrence, my first grade teacher and the first grade teacher for many if not all of the reunion attendees. Although she is nearing 100 years old, she is still very active, plays the piano, works on Afro-American historical projects in her community, makes guest appearances, and writes articles of historical interest to list only a few of her activities.

At the second reunion I visited two of my high school teachers, Mr. and Ms. Dawson. Both were outstanding  teachers and it was a pleasure to spend time with them. In their 90’s, they are both still very active and have great face and name recognition of their past students spanning more than 55 years.

Now, as “Friends of Copey” you may be wondering how this is all connected to the Learning Center. The connection is as follows:

  1. Having a caring and dedicated teacher plays a significant role in the future of any student.
  2. Receiving a quality and relevant education often contributes to a life of success.
  3. The classroom managed by caring teachers affords students the opportunity to learn about friendship, community, and humanity…not just reading, writing, and the rest.
  4. The classroom open doors to new people, new cultures, new places.

I have a very deep appreciation for the staff at the Learning Center. These volunteers freely make huge personal and financial sacrifices to teach in a school and community not at all affluent and lack needed educational resources. I have a similar appreciation for Lisa Baldwin, a “Friend of Copey”, who is now implementing the new Pen Pal Program. She is a veteran classroom teacher in Bristol, Virginia and is sharing her time and talents with the volunteers working at the Learning Center.  She exhibits the spirit of Ms. Lawrence and the Dawsons.

Many of you followers of this Blog, the “Friends of Copey”, are present and past classroom teachers. You have touched lives similar to Ms. Lawrence and the Dawsons.  Your educational legacy is also rich or on its way as you touch the lives of your students in a special way. I could not be more satisfied that my farewell tours have allowed me to spend time with family and friends (and teachers) and I am excited that so many teachers have joined with me as we try to make a difference in the lives of those students in Copey. This is our way of passing it on to others. My friend Jane said it even better once… we are “livin the givin” back life. See the April 3 Post.

I can never say it enough….thank you for your support and ongoing interest. Stay connected and informed.

3 thoughts on “Farewell Tours….”

  1. Thank you for these inspirational and encouraging words. How fortunate we are to be surrounded by students and teachers. I love “the givin” back! Makes me happy to write that I will be returning to my fifth grade students in three weeks and watching them compose their pen pal letters. Sorry that Dave and I didn’t get to see you on this trip, Scrapper. We look forward to having you here at the Bartlett property when you get back to E & H.

  2. Art: I enjoyed your “Farewell Tours…” What a wonderful look into our childhood days. We certainly had wonderful teachers – Ms. Evelyn Lawrence and Mr. & Mrs. Dawson. Our education was one of quality and caring. Perhaps that is why I decided to become an educator. I spent many years in the classroom and enjoyed them – I love the first graders. I loved starting the little ones out and watching them grow. The opportunity you had to visit with our remaining aunts must have been a special time and one that you will remember. Thanks for taking me on your “farewell tour” and allowing me to see it all though your eyes.

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