ED-ucation is a wonderful thing

Published 9:17 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2018

ED-ucation is a wonderful thing.

A co-worker asked me a few days ago if I went to school in my hometown of Chunky, or if there even was one there. I told her we lived just across the road from where the school had once stood, but when I was there we went to Hickory Attendance Center just down the highway.

I started there in the final couple of months of my eighth-grade year, and in the next four years of school developed some lifelong friendships. I don’t remember the name of every teacher I had, but several stand out to me for various reasons. Some were amazing instructors, strong encouragers and examples of the kind of person we all hoped to be after we’d graduated and grown.

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One of those people was our principal, Ed McGowan.

As principal, he could be the strong, swift hand of justice for students involved in persistently errant behaviors. He could be the voice of reason and gentle correction. He could be the standard of encouragement and the lighthouse that reminded you when all else was against you, someone was in your corner.

He was all those things for me.

If I got paged to come to the office, I often wasn’t sure if it was because I was about to be asked to do something constructive — like help move something in the gym or work in the concession stand — or because I’d been late to class yet again or someone had deduced I was part of the group that filled Coach Caldwell’s ceiling tiles with No. 2 pencils and bent paper clips.

There’s a statute of limitations on stuff like that, right?

I hope so. Because I may also have been part of the balloon-blowing babble that stuffed Mr. McGowan’s car with those air-filled delights during our senior year. Might have been. No admission of guilt here. Move along.

During one of our last pep rallies in my 12th-grade year, my friend and fellow senior Lee Youngblood pulled off a hilarious skit in which he portrayed McGowan, wooden paddle in hand, lurking outside a classroom door and peering in to make sure the rabble rousers were behaving. Must’ve been our class.

Even Mr. McGowan laughed as Lee mimicked his voice and mannerisms. When the skit was over, Lee announced to the spectators that imitation was the highest form of flattery and that this was the only reason he would do something like that for our esteemed principal.

He was right. We all knew it. Even the students Mr. McGowan had to constantly correct, suspend or even expel knew that he was consistently fair and that he cared about them — and we all respected and loved him.

And you know what? We still do.

Thank you Mr. Ed McGowan. The ED-ucation we had was a wonderful thing.

There’s definitely no statute of limitations on that.

Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.