Charley’s World Episode Seven

In Charley’s community, Thanksgiving had special meaning. Like the original Thanksgiving, this was a time when the community came together. For a small rural community, there was an amazing blend of cultures, and this was celebrated with a special program hosted by the public school system. Charley found the ceremony inspirational and always made it a point to attend.

As usual, the ceremony began with a Thanksgiving prayer. When the student rose to read the prayer, Charley had tears in his eyes. It was Marco. His voice was clear. His Italian accent remained, and that was wonderfully symbolic of the blending of cultures of the community. Charley looked at Marco’s parents. They seemed to understand every word he spoke.

After several songs by the school choir, one student was chosen to read the Thanksgiving Proclamation written by the students themselves. It wasn’t until that moment that the chosen student was aware they had been chosen. Charley couldn’t believe that Natty had been chosen.

He gripped Nellie’s hand and hugged her. What an honor this was for a little girl who started on her reading journey after being taunted by her classmates. No one would ever look again at Natty as the girl that had hand-me-down clothes.

After the event had ended, Sam, the replacement cross-country coach, had to speak with Charley. “You know we didn’t place any runner in our first quad meet this fall. Once you started teaching me how to coach, we ended up third in the state, beating out much larger schools. And the best thing is that all of our top runners are coming back. Our other coaches have asked me to share my secret. Since it was really what you taught me, I hope it’s ok if I work with them.” Of course Charley was delighted to say yes

Then he was approached by the principal of Natty and Marco’s school. “We should have recognized you tonight, but I know you didn’t want that. I want to ask if we could meet. I’d like to pick your brain about how we can extend Natty and Marco’s success to other children and to other subjects, especially math.” Charley and the principal agreed on a date.

As he was leaving, Charley was approached by the president of the coal company where he had once worked. “Charley I know that you won’t come back to work for us, but I need your help. Our new hires just don’t have the work ethic we need. They are struggling to fit in with our senior employees. Could we meet to see what ideas you have?” Again, Charley agreed to meet.

As he drove home, Charley thought a lot about what he had to be thankful for. What began with a timid knock on his front door had now become his life’s purpose.

Even with all of his blessings, he still worried about being torn in too many directions. Part of his concern was relieved when he read the headlines in the next day’s paper.

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“The acclaim only comes when you see those who you taught being honored by others.” – Anonymous