As we are here to celebrate this momentous occasion…I would like to thank superintendent Lamb, the school board, family & friends, & all those who voiced their desire for this honor to be bestowed.I would like reflect w/ you about my Mother, Rowena Johnson, her Legacy, & our shared responsibilities as keeper’s of the Legacy.Rev. Billy Graham was once quoted as sayingThe greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.The Legacy of Rowena Johnson is one of character faith, integrity, and courage.Legacy is about life and living. It’s about learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future.Where do you think it’s best to plant a young tree: a clearing in an old-growth forest or an open field? Ecologists tell us that a young tree grows better when it’s planted in an area with older trees. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground. In this way, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones so that the whole forest becomes healthier.That’s legacy: an interconnection across time, with a need for those who have come before us and a responsibility to those who come after us.I know my mother would first thank her Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. She would thank her parents the late Sutton and Etta Spigner, who helped foster that relationship with Christ that would go onto be the foundation of her aspirations. She would thank her parents for challenging her & her siblings to believe that despite position or circumstance in life, that if she kept God first & acknowledged him in all her ways, that she had the ability to not only impact, but to change the world. And like any good challenge, my Momma accepted it & knocked it out the park. Like most great leaders she understood that to whom much is given much is required. As fervently as she worked to gain wisdom, to understand and solve problems. She was just as passionate about her responsibility to those who come after her. A responsibility to cultivating talent, sharing best practices, & helping those around her become their best selves. That host includes, her children and grandchildren, professional peers, and generally anyone who crossed her path.By making those connections & deposits, we do a complete full circle in life’s journey and leave some of our “selves” – our experiences, ideas, values, and personal example – in the minds and hearts of others.The wisdom she gained through decades of difficult learning, made it easier for those around her to learn.That will be a mainstay of Rowena Johnson’s legacy.And to the educators, the call to action as it regards to the Legacy of Rowena Johnson is;Every day be more active, more dynamic, more passionate for the advancement, education and enrichment of all children in your stead.Be so present in these moments that even in the day that you’re not present body, you are still present in presence. This is the present that Rowena Johnson left to all of us blessed to have known her.Thank you again for this tremendous honor!God bless you all & to God be all the glory!
By Marques Johnson, son of Rowena Johnson.