LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Tommy Wimberly of Bauxite Middle School was asked by his principal to deliver the school back to school motivational speech to start the year. His speech was very emotional, heartfelt... and it went viral.

Wimberly's story is a perfect example of "you never know."

A financially and emotionally impoverished child is miraculously nurtured by a school and his expression of gratitude grabs us all.

You never know.

In 1962 my parents were in the process of getting a divorce. Back then, divorce was not so commonplace. It was a personal disaster. I was in the 6th grade and dealing with a crumbling family foundation.

My 6th-grade teacher, Mrs. Evans, wanted to give us an exercise in debate. I've forgotten the topic or what I even said, but I remember it as fresh as if it happened 56 minutes ago -- not 56 years ago. I remember that when I was through speaking to the class, as I sat down, I looked at her and she gave me an "okay" sign.

That was it. A simple hand sign signifying a job well done.

That simple sign to a12-year-old, disgraced by divorce, void of any measure of self-esteem. Her simple gesture carried me to a new place, an affirmation that this might be a path to follow. You never know when the slightest little thing will change the arc of a young life.

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.


THV11 staff members share what teacher has impacted, inspired their life