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Samantha Jones

Sam's Notebook

Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com

First day of school

Friday, August 16, 2019

Despite the unbearable heat, this week marks the end of summer break for our students, teachers and school administrators. Some kids are experiencing their very first day of school and all the excitement and fear that comes with that. My husband Gideon has something in common with those kids.

Itís his first day of school, too ĖĖ only as a teacher. Gideon will be teaching eighth grade social studies and language arts at Eureka Springs Middle School, the school district where he completed his observation and internship while earning a masterís degree over the past few years. It goes without saying that Iím proud of him. Heís worked so hard to get where he is today.

It has been a long time coming if you ask me; he started working on his degree in 2016, two years after we moved to Carroll County. The best program he could find was through the University of Central Arkansas. That meant lots of traveling to Conway, especially during the summer sessions. Luckily, the program was primarily online and the travel was nothing compared to a similar program at the University of Arkansas.

Through the whole process, Gideon worked as a receptionist at a hotel in Eureka Springs. He began doing night shifts as his work load started taking up time during the day, so he often worked 20 hours straight. Some nights he could complete school assignments at work. Sometimes he couldnít. No matter what, he kept submitting assignments and didnít give up.

Thatís the most important thing to me ĖĖ not giving up. When Gideon and I first started dating, we were both coming to terms with emotional trauma. He had a hard time finishing college. I had a hard time dealing with my experiences in college. He got his bachelorís degree right after we moved to Eureka Springs, but he wasnít very excited about the concept of graduate school at the time.

I couldnít blame him. Some of us canít get enough higher education, and others like Gideon need a break before taking the next big step. So he took a break. Then he signed up for the program, completed his assignments and never quit.

When people talk about success, Iíve noticed we mostly talk about the good things. Itís more pleasant to talk about your accomplishments than the roadblocks you encountered along the way. I understand that, but I sure wish we talked about the roadblocks more. We all feel like giving up sometimes, donít we? Why not share those struggles in tandem with accomplishments? After all, isnít it more impressive to succeed despite the fear of failure?

Well, Gideon is certainly successful. This week is a bright new beginning for him, the beginning of his career in education. Iíve already seen the difference he has made in studentsí lives as an intern and substitute teacher, so I must imagine heíll keep doing that. He connects with kids because heís struggled like they have, and heís not afraid to admit it.

To those of you who have struggled your way toward success, I hope you are proud of yourselves! Persistence pays off. And to Gideon ĖĖ the soon-to-be best teacher in the world ĖĖ†I hope you know how proud I am of you. I am better because I know you, and Iím sure your students will have the same experience.