You never know.
Whether it’s complimenting someone on their smile, helping a student with a problem or even a simple thumbs up.. you never know.
You never know what type of impact you can have on someone’s life with the smallest gesture of love and kindness.
For Bauxite Middle School coach and teacher Tommy Wimberly, an inspiration from his school teachers and administration, carried on not only into his career, but his entire life.
As teachers and students head back to the classroom, they often need an extra pick me up to start the school year.
Wimberly was asked by his principal to deliver the ‘Back to School’ motivational speech to start the year. “I got to watching some back to school videos and speeches and I was like this is what I need to do.”
Coach Wimberly didn’t expect to be on stage, and ten years ago he didn’t expect to graduate high school. “We lived in a single wide trailer with two bedrooms and our fair share of holes in the floor. The only thing that held it together was rats, roaches, and termites. With that living situation, you can imagine what type of student I was.”
Tommy’s father left the family when he was six months old while his stepdad battled drug and alcohol addiction. The former teacher now colleague Charlotte Tarver remembers those days all too well. “Sometimes he didn’t have running water in the video. He wore the same clothes over and over again. He said you know I did come to school because I knew the only two meals I knew I would get were breakfast and lunch.”
Tommy’s oasis in those days was his girlfriend Kayla, but a young couple would unexpectedly become a family of three his junior year. “I was scared to death, I wanted to quit school and go to work. I wanted to do right by my family I’m going to be that dad and I’m going to be that father that I never had.” With the help of his in-laws. The couple got married and Tommy set out a new goal. Coach the game he loves and teaches with those who inspired him.
“For him to be a Bauxite graduate and for him to say that teachers meant so much to me and I told Tommy and said listen. You are that shining light for these children and don’t ever forget it and we need you.”
Over a decade later, Tommy now looks forward to coaching and teaching another student named Wimberly. “It’s always been my mission to kind of bring some redemption to the Wimberly name not that it’s ever been bad but it’s never been heard of or talked about and I kind of want to leave a legacy for him to build off of.”
Wimberly's story is a perfect example of "you never know." A simple word, hand gesture or facial expression can stick with one person forever. As we grow older every minute, another minute goes by that you could influence someone’s life and change it eternally.
There's a segment of the population that knows this better than anyone on Earth. We call them teachers. On Monday, they will begin it all over again, faced with the pressure of improving scores and navigating bureaucracy and encountering young people who bring millions of dramas to the classroom every day.
Yet, they will be there, these teachers, to inspire, encourage and guide the next generation of children.