Lindale teachers write their own stories

Convocation speakers inspire teachers for upcoming year

Lindale teachers returned to school Monday with a state-of-the-district report by Superintendent Stan Surratt, as well as inspiring words by guest speaker Jonathan Carey.

“Convocation was very special this year,” high school teacher Alex Powell said.

Convocation began with Surratt discussing the excellent financial standing of the district, future improvements to campuses, improved STAAR scores, and the various high-achieving student groups from last year.  Teachers who were employed last year received a $200 retention bonus from the board. In addition, members of the LISD Education Foundation also personally donated gift cards to staff members whose names were drawn.

“I love how our foundation supports the teachers and staff of LISD,” high school teacher Susan Penny said.

After Surratt and board president Kelly Cox spoke, Jonathan Cary was introduced as the guest speaker for the morning. A graduate of Rice University, Cary is an East Texas native of Palestine and the founder of Texas Youth Advocates, a non-profit organization for young people. He spoke about the struggles that affected his education, as well as the teachers who inspired him. His primary message included his observations that teachers who have understanding, who promote accountability, and who cause kids to believe in themselves are the most effective. He also spoke about how much hard work and personal responsibility were important to his achievements.

“Excuses make you weak and motivation is in the mirror,” Cary said. “Whether you want responsibility or not, it starts with you.”

Joining Cary on stage was Lindale Assistant Superintendent Dr. Belinda Neal. Neal was Cary’s fourth grade teacher, and they shared their experiences as teacher and student. Neal discussed an assignment she had given Cary where she had told him to be the author of his own story in life. Cary revealed that Dr. Neal had held him accountable, but also made him believe in himself.

“Between the foundation and school board’s generosity with gifts and bonuses, and Dr. Neal telling her touching story, as well as Mr. Surratt’s encouraging words and humor, it was more than enough to make any teacher excited for the new year,” Powell said.