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Psalms 139:13-18 – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous, how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them, they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”
I absolutely love this beautiful scripture because it describes just how personal God is. It describes, in detail, just how into us He really is. Before a child can ever have a relationship with another human being, God establishes His relationship with that child. God’s heart for children is so personal that He gives that child the first of His very best.
I could go on and on about His love for children, but instead I’m going to switch gears and talk about the teachers at Davis Drive Elementary, that He has assigned to be His own personal hands. Just when I think I’m getting to the end of my time of driving a YMCA bus, the Lord allows me to witness something that makes me love driving that old number 66 all over again.
At 3 PM, five days a week I sit on old number 66 at Davis Drive Elementary to pickup and transport 25 or so kids to the Y. In two hours, I travel to four different schools. I won’t mention the other schools, because none of them are doing what Davis Drive Elementary is doing. Why do I say that? Because its an absolute fact! The United States of America is still the greatest place to live. Do we have our issues, and is there a super long list of things we need to fix? Yes there is. Division, anger, fighting, bullying, disregard for human life and greed. These are just some of the ingredients that we have put together that has made the mess we have.
I don’t watch the news, I don’t do social media and I don’t do politics. I thought that by not traveling down these avenues I would be able to avoid some of the chaos, yet my heart still carries evidence of the shrapnel from them all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The 80s was the greatest decade ever! Because getting completely off of the human grid isn’t an option, I pray and ask God to give my soul some rest throughout my day amidst the societal turmoil that slinks around like a snake that doesn’t want to be seen. God is faithful, and He answers prayers. There are amazing blessings that the Lord gives me that reminds me of His faithfulness when it comes to my prayers.
One of those blessings I get, I get five days a week as I sit on old number 66 at Davis Drive Elementary. Everyday, at 3 o’clock I sit and watch God use some of the sweetest teachers to ever teach in a classroom act out His love for children. Everyday, the teachers at Davis Drive Elementary come walking out of the building with what looks like little soldiers trailing behind them. There’s no hard straight line formation, no yelling out orders, no particular cadence and no uptight facial expressions. But there are plenty of smiles, laughter, tons of hugs and that’s not an exaggeration!
It’s so unbelievable that I just had to write about it. I’m 50 years old and I’ve been in and around schools for a very long time. Never have I ever seen teachers love students the way the teachers at Davis Drive Elementary love their students! They walk them out to their buses, and before they get on the bus, they hug each child. If I had to break it down, it’s like watching angels scamper around looking for someone to love on. And along with the hugs comes dancing, fist bumps and high fives. But none of it is handed out without a whole lot of love attached to it. It truly is one of the best parts of my entire afternoon driving old 66.
For me on a personal level, it’s the Lord’s way of letting me know that everything is going to be ok, and that in spite of the suffering in our society, America will be ok when it’s all said and done. There are teachers of many different races leading these children to their buses, but none of the kids know that. All they see is somebody that genuinely cares for them, their wellbeing, their futures and their untarnished little hearts. They see people! People that just want to love them right where they are, for who they, the way they are.
They are living examples of a love without limits. No color, background, size, weight or social economic status matters. It’s all about giving these sweet babies unconditional love and confidence. It just gives me so much hope with all of this craziness going on.
In 1 Corinthians 1-:13, God promised that He will always provide a way of escape so that we can endure. When I was in sixth grade at Kingswoods Elementary, I experienced some of the darkest, longest, saddest days of my life. At the age of 12, I witnessed a lot of domestic violence in my house. I say house because that’s what it was; it wasn’t a home. Some days I would get up after only four hours of sleep to go to school. As tired as I was, I was 100 percent energized when I got to school. School for me was my 1 Corinthians 10:13. It was my way of escape.
The angel assigned to love and encourage me through that season of life was my teacher, Mrs. Nancy Perry. She was so incredible, that it would take an entire article specifically about her to even begin to explain what she meant to me. She didn’t know about all of the violence I was seeing at home, but looking back on it I really do believe that she knew something was wrong somewhere in my life. Mrs. Perry always seemed to know when I needed encouragement, tough love, grace or just a simply hug. To this day, she is one of the most influential and most important people in my life. Nobody could ever take her place.
She played her position and fulfilled God’s purpose in my life, and because she did, I’m the man I am today. I’m the founder of the Cary Unity Walk, an author and a community activist for racial reconciliation in Cary, the town I grew up in. I’m the father of a beautiful eight-year-old boy named Kassidy, I married my best friend Amy and soon I’ll be a Chaplain for the Cary Police Department. Mrs. Nancy Perry, and the timing in which Jesus placed her in my life, was used to provide me a way of escape.
Unfortunately, there are so many children that are experiencing domestic violence, lack of attention from their parents, lack of direction from their parents and next to no real hands-on love from their parents. Children can be resilient. They can also learn to master the art of “fake it till you make it.” It’s a sad but true reality that burdens the human heart.
God has handpicked, shaped, molded, polished, prepared and sent out His own soldiers of love that are fully committed to being a way of escape. I don’t know what it is about the teachers at Davis Drive Elementary that God decided to give them a double portion of love, grace and mercy to hand out, but He did. They’re so happy and excited to give these sweet babies the assurance of love. The impact will have a long lasting affect on all of them. Jesus Himself, throughout His entire ministry, made it a point to have physical contact with people He encountered. I can assure you, that there are children at Davis Drive that do not receive the love, encouragement and joy they get at school. They’re so much more than educators, and they’re worth so much more than they’re paid.
While the politicians continue to wage war against each other, divide our government and fatten up their pockets in the process, our teachers have to teach in over-crowded classrooms, do it all day and then hurry off to work a part-time job to make it.
Teaching is a take-home profession, and sadly an unfairly paid profession. North Carolina Educational Lottery? Here’s what I think about it: if you want to be educated on how to ruin your life because of a gambling addiction, educated on how to ruin the lives of your family or educated on how to waste your money on a get-rich-quick scheme, participate in the North Carolina Educational Lottery. But if you want to be educated about who’s not benefiting from the North Carolina Educational Lottery, check the bank accounts, the hearts and listen to the words of a school teacher. Teachers do not, nor will they ever, do what they do for the money! They do what they do because they love who they’re doing it for.
To all of the teachers of Davis Drive Elementary! Well done! I thank God for all of you!
You’re changing lives, and you’re proving that it’s all about the heart, not the skin color, a human is wrapped in. I want to encourage all of you not to look to man, money and especially the government to define how valuable you are as a teachers. And as women, don’t expect the mirror to explain your self worth either. The mirror doesn’t know how to spell the word priceless.
If you really want to know the absolute truth, you’ll just have to wait until you get to heaven and let God explain it to you. Thanks for being who you are, and all that you do for those sweet babies. Thank you for being their beautiful way of escape.
Story and photos by Jimi Clemons.