I love learning, and I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t like school. Long ago, our family lived in Memphis, Tennessee where I went to Kindergarten, first grade, and part of second grade. In the middle of second grade my dad’s job transferred him across the state, and we moved to Chattanooga, TN. When we moved to Chattanooga, entering the classroom was scary since most students had been in that class all year and friendships and classroom community had been established. One girl in the class, Shelaine, befriended me on the first day. We remained close friends for many years after that, and to this day I still remember her for the love and kindness she showed to a shy, young girl who was new to the classroom.
During January of my sophomore year of high school, we learned that my dad would be transferred again - this time to Birmingham, AL. I was devastated that I would be moving at the end of the school year to a new state and so far away from my friends and school. I was a VERY shy teenager, and the thought of moving to a new place where I didn't know anyone was terrifying for me.
My dad moved within the next few weeks, and my mom and sister and I stayed so that we could finish the school year. During spring break, we made a trip to Birmingham to visit schools and look for homes. Our real estate agent recommended a school for us to visit, so we went to the school hoping to take a tour and meet the coaches (my sister and I were three-sport athletes). When we arrived, the school said that no adult would be available to give us a tour (the school used student office aides to give the tours), but we were able to meet the basketball and volleyball coaches. The visit was not a welcoming one, and we ended up visiting another school, called W. A. Berry High School.
When we arrived, we met one of the counselors, Francis Moon. She was extremely friendly and helpful, she gave us a tour, and we were able to meet the girls’ basketball coach. She then took us back to her office and told us all the reasons why we would love attending Berry High School. It felt like Mrs. Moon went above and beyond what was “required” by a counselor for welcoming a prospective family. What we felt from Mrs. Moon that day caused us to choose Berry High School, and her love and care didn't end that day. Mrs. Moon checked on my sister and me while were in school there, always with a smile and showing love. Mrs. Moon and my mom remained friends even after my sister and I graduated, and to this day I think of her as a guardian angel sent to us because of the wonderful experiences we had as students and athletes at Berry High School.
Now, as an educator, I try to pay it forward by meeting as many new students to Hoover High School that I can, especially freshmen since I’m the freshmen administrator. I remember what it was like to be the “new kid,” and I want all new students to feel welcome and loved because they are now a part of our Hoover family.
**In 1994, W.A. Berry High School closed as a high school and moved into the current Hoover High School. My sister and I both work at the school, and the basketball coach that we met that day that we visited Berry High turned out to be a father-figure to the both of us. He passed away in 1994, but his legacy lives on through the Robert O. Finley III Character Education Program and Awards. My sister and I both feel blessed to give back to the school where we were given so much.