Education is our family calling.
Bred. To care. Baptist minister Grandfather. Taught school in a one-roomer and had spirit enough to care about the struggling country children. Long before the Appalachian label. Way before the Kennedy/Shrivers made us documentary barefoot fodder. Papa Douglas Miller just... cared. Became sort of a silent icon. Saintly Grandfather Superintendent.
Mom went to school at Eastern when it was a college for young women. Back in the day when that was what young ladies of a certain age did: become Teachers. She and Dad moved to northern Kentucky. She secured a teaching job. It remains a family mystery what angel must have opened that particular door for an Estill County girl to land a prime job in what was then, and in many ways still is, a rather elitist northern district. Moving away from the cloudy misty homesafe of Irvine. It was scandalous at the time, I reckon. Janice Miller, eldest daughter of a potential oil fortune, moving away and following a dream. (escape?)
Her husband, having failed at regular schooling, procured a Barber College certificate of some sort and opened his own shop up there in the faraway. Dad had a shop within a few months with paying barbers. Across from Ontario's Department Store and right next to the first Ponderosa Steak House in the region. Prime location. Salad bar!
Within a few years they gave birth to a son. Me. My memory of those days is a mixture of the large fish tanks in Dad's barbershop, Mom's particular pride of what I wore to "her" school on the first day, and lots of alone time, as a firstborn child. Alone. Time with myself. Both parents working in an age when that was rare. There were Froot Loops and Batman. That was plenty.
Tonight, I got a call from my brother. He is concerned about the test scores that are about to be released at the school where he is now Principal.
Calling me for advice, I suppose. Or solace. Or, "Hey Bro, what should I say to my staff when they get the news?"
I didn't have much to say, other than "that failed No Child Left Behind policy is bullcrap".
What I should have said is:
"Education is our family calling. Tomorrow morning, find the first lonely child fresh off the bus and call her by name. Ask her to breakfast in your office. Tell your secretary to hold all calls. You have a very important meeting with the most important person in the building."