Other Voices

How about a new pair of glasses for Thanksgiving?

Epiphany is defined as “a grasp of reality through one event usually simple and striking.” The occasion for me was the Fort Worth ISD 2017 Academic Chairs For Teaching Excellence (#FWISDTeachingChairs) held Nov. 15.

This program created an interest and a volunteer opportunity for me to assist the Fort Worth school dDistrict. The assignment was to serve on one of 16 committees to review teacher applications and letters of support and conduct interviews. Pretty routine, yet rewarding.

I was flattered as a committee member to be invited to the recognition event but was unprepared. After hearing from sponsors highlighting their commitment to teaching excellence and hearing the real-world life experiences of the most gifted teachers and the impact on students, I was challenged.

In the same one-hour presentation when I felt everything I was doing and had done in transportation seemed so miniscule, I also felt that my worst day does not compare to the challenges and home situations in which some of our children live and to which the school district willingly responds without conditions.

This opportunity created a new lens for me, and I felt blessed by a very small contribution of volunteering.

This lens taught me that a school district does not make changes in big lifts like one of our transportation cranes but through an environment that creates thousands of life-changing opportunities for parents, students and teachers: one encounter at a time, every hour, every school, every day.

This new perspective has taught me that what I may know to be correct may not be. It may be too broad, too general and not precise.

How often have we all said we know what the answer to urban school needs are, and be honest, we really didn’t have a clue?

As a community we have a lot to be thankful for. The collective group is doing well, but families in our own neighborhoods are hurting.

We need to change our lens and perspective and see. This experience with the FWISD has taught me to get less of my news from others in the confines of my home and more information from life efforts of volunteering, becoming a sponsor, participating in life and listening.

We need to get our eyes examined, lenses updated, focus and see from our life experiences, not opinions fed to us by our laziness. Make this Thanksgiving and holiday season more meaningful, more active, more real, one encounter at a time, every hour, every day.

Michael Morris, P.E., is the transportation director at the North Central Texas Council of Governments. He is a volunteer committee member for the Lockheed Martin Academic Chair for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Congratulations to Kenyal Carr, Meadowbrook Middle School.