Secretary of State addresses local teachers

Published 11:06 am Monday, August 7, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill spoke to Chilton County Schools teachers and personnel at county-wide in-service on Aug. 7.

He encouraged each person that they have an opportunity each day to have a positive impact that could change a child’s life.

Many of his family members have worked in education in various roles. Merrill said he had been the director of community relations for a school system for 16 years.

“We have a lack of understanding and appreciation by elected officials in Montgomery and other parts of our state that don’t fully understand what it means to be an educator or what it means to be a part of the education process,” Merrill said.

For many elected officials, he said the last time they were involved in education is when they were a student.

“They are in a very difficult position to make good decisions and good choices that can help you each and every day in your classroom,” Merrill said.

The Secretary of State’s appreciation and understanding of what a classroom teacher does came from teaching in his wife’s classroom for three hours several years ago, so that she and other teachers could attend the funeral of a colleague.

“I was so glad when that day was over because I was wore slap out,” Merrill said.

He encouraged teachers and employees to invite elected officials to come to their classroom or work area and assist them. Merrill said this would increase their understanding and appreciation for what they do.

He said each Chilton County Schools employee has one job, even though they have different roles.

“Your job is to do that assigned job … to the very best of your ability to help find ways to educate one of the students or a number of students,” Merrill said.

He said every employee needs to understand how their role fits with the overarching goal of the school system. He emphasized that cafeteria workers, bus drivers and janitors are known by all the students.

“They know them, and they know them by name, and how that person interacts with those children often times helps determine what kind of day those children have,” Merrill said.

He said most people cannot name the past five Senators of Alabama, but they can name the teachers they had in elementary school, their bus driver, lunchroom lady and principal.

“Those people are important people because they changed your life,” Merrill said.

He said the opportunity to impact a person’s life in that way is an “unmatched and unparalleled opportunity most people don’t get.”