Classes resumed for schools in Jackson-Madison County Schools this week.
That’s between 12,000 and 13,000 students (counting pre-K students) back in class after a few weeks off, hopefully ready to continue their education.
But I remember the days of being in school and wondering if the work we were doing really mattered.
Is there anything to be gained from the ability to diagram a sentence or figuring up the length of a hypotenuse of a right triangle?
Honestly, probably not, but it could be useful depending on what the student does with his or her life when they’re done with school.
A student is exposed to an unfathomable amount of information from the time they start school in Kindergarten until they’re walking across the stage receiving their diploma at graduation.
And in that unfathomable amount, there’s sure to be stuff included that will never be revisited at any point during that child’s life after they’re done with high school.
But the entirety of the education process is to expose the students and enlighten them on a variety of things they may or may not need in light – in their chosen field of work or at home.
So to the students at JMCSS schools, use this time and opportunity wisely.
Once you’ve mastered that entirety of knowledge and use some of that experience to determine how you want to spend the rest of your life for the next 50 years or so, then your education process continues but becomes a little more direct.
But think about some of your predecessors who’ve gone before you and walked the same halls you’re walking now.
Van Jones is a graduate of Jackson Central-Merry who developed a career in journalism and later in law and parlayed that into a career that saw him serve on former United States President Barack Obama’s staff and now he has his own television show on CNN.
Another JCM graduate, Mike Norton, parlayed his love for drawing into a career as a comic book illustrator that’s led him to work for DC and Marvel as well as conducting a number of his own comics projects.
South Side graduate Michelle Marshall is the head of Diversity, Equity and Including for PUMA Group in Boston, meaning she’s in charge of making sure a global brand corporation is doing its part in ensuring equal opportunities for all its employees and potential employees.
A third JCM graduate, Dvondre Williamson, played football well enough for the Cougars to be awarded a scholarship to play for the Midshipmen in 2014. He used that college education to work his way up to nuclear technician and working on submarines.
On the northern end of town, it was in the 1990s a young man was coming up through North Side High School, served in the United States Marines for a few years, then served as an officer and eventual leader at the Jackson Police Department. And three years ago, Tyreece Miller was appointed to serve all of West Tennessee as U.S. Marshal, the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in this region of the state.
Media, arts/entertainment, business, military and law enforcement are just a few areas a high school diploma from JMCSS could lead you to.
And that’s not even mentioning athletes who’ve made it to the professional leagues have been able to do because of the money they’ve made.
Artis Hicks is back home owning a few businesses and giving back by helping young linemen get better after his 11-year career in the NFL.
A.J. Merriweather played basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters and now owns a construction company in town.
Jabari Greer used his platform gained from an NFL career to help men become better fathers in Jackson and in his current home in Louisiana.
There are doctors, lawyers, business owners, elected officials at the local and state level who claim JMCSS as the place that started their education.
As a student now, you see obstacles before you – projects, difficult classes, tests, quizzes, and the minutiae that is the daily grind of a school year.
But these obstacles are nothing more than opportunities to get better and learn more, and then once you’ve overcome that obstacle, you know you can overcome something bigger.
So to the students, there’s a perception outside the district that many of you can’t read. If that perception is actually accurate for you, I’d love to hear some stories a year or two down the line of how you proved the naysayers wrong and you learned to read and how that is leading you to do bigger things.
Most everyone in this community wants to see all of you succeed. Because the more of you who succeed in life means that’s more people who are available to help others and give back to their community, which will only make Jackson and Madison County that much better for the next generation.
So good luck this school year, and work hard, please. The Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee, United States and Earth need you to utilize this education to the max for a positive impact you can have on as many as possible.
Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.