Grateful Watkins

Katie and Robert Watkins 

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Recently, Twitter posed the question to followers: Describe 2020 in one word. Twitter users were certainly up to the challenge to describe this unpredictable year, and I took it upon myself to sift through some of those responses, and I noticed that many - if not all - responses were quite negative and cynical, and it appeared that most were looking forward to the year 2020 coming to an end.

While I cannot deny that this year has been filled with more heartbreak and hurt than I would care to admit or endure, this year has also opened my eyes to the generosity and goodness of the commonplace man. When I think of goodness and generosity, I am inclined to reflect on a very particular and personal situation.

Several weeks back, my cell phone rang, and I answered a call from my dad. He was simply calling to inquire about my day, but within our conversation, I recounted a story from the day in which my football coach had taken a young man to the grocery store and bought him enough groceries to see himself and his family through the week. My dad questioned why the young man needed groceries, and my dad was astounded to find that there were families with children in our community who were hungry, and to be quite frank, this just didn’t set well with him.

Now, if you know my Dad, Jay Watkins, or as we commonly refer to him Big Jay, you know that he is not one to “let the grass grow under his feet.” He is a mover and shaker, and he likes to make change happen - and happen quickly. Within a matter of 48 hours, he had collected $10,000 to donate back to the EHS Nutrition Program (which goes to feed students in the weight program). My heart was bursting with happiness, love, and gratitude for my dad for collecting this money for MY kids: to help feed them, to help nourish them, and to help guide them.

However, this generosity stretches far and wide beyond just my dad. While he was the one to make the phone calls, collect the money, and really “get the ball” moving, it was the generosity and kindness of strangers who instantly and selflessly gave their hard-earned money. This money did not come from our community; rather, it came from a network of people outside of our community, and when they heard that there were kids in need, they graciously gave.

I’ve said it a million times before: Public education is one of those things that “sticks with you.” As an educator, you don’t have the luxury to walk away after the last bell of the day and resume the work on Monday.

Education isn’t just a job; these kids etch themselves into your life. You think about them; you care for them; you worry about them; and you love them. And once the bell rings or the school year ends, you don’t just stop thinking, caring, worrying, and loving them. They leave an eternal mark. It’s by far the hardest, and equally the best, way to spend my days. While there may be many who can’t understand the feeling, I will always be grateful to be surrounded by people who care for me, my kids, my school, and my community, and I am humbled and thankful for the generosity and kindness of others.

This is just one of the examples that I have been blessed to witness this year. So while you may be tempted to rush to the end of the year, remember that this year has been filled with generosity, love, and kindness as well.

If I had to describe 2020 in just one word: grateful.

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