Count me among the taxpayers who are super pleased with the advancements and progress in test scores for the Hamilton County Schools system.
In fact, I vow not to say a disparaging word in any regard today in tribute to that.
Kudos to everyone who had a hand in this, from Bryan Johnson to LuLu the lunch lady, provided there is a LuLu the lunch lady somewhere.
There are several talking points from the cumulative 5s that busted the buttons for Johnson and the Department of Education, but those can be broached on a different day.
Today is about accomplishment and praise.
Snack Pack Ministry
Led by Janice Robertson and Anita Kapperman, the Snack Pack Ministry team meets the first Wednesday of each month at East Brainerd Church of Christ to stuff bags with food and snacks for the thousands of county students who are “food insecure.” For more information on the Snack Pack Ministry, go to eastbrainerdchurch.org or call 423-892-1389.
Which brings me to Janice Robertson.
Who, you may ask? Where does she teach, you may wonder? When did she speak at the back-slapping news conference, you struggle to recall?
Janice Robertson is an angel among us, part of the leadership team of something so wonderful and pure and true that her presence alone makes you feel better about our pursuit of being better.
"Don't make this about me," she said after being identified, recognized, praised and honored by the Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday. "Make this about the kids and their needs."
See what I mean?
Robertson is the fund-raising part of the dynamite 1-2 punch with Anita Kapperman that leads the Snack Pack Ministry.
If you are aware of this, then you know the magic these women are spreading. If you don't, well, pull up a chair and realize that as we praise the 5s of our students' test scores, we need to figure out a way as a community to help this five-star cause and these five-star heroes fight it.
Last week, Robertson and her merry band of champions packed thousands of bags for county students who fall into the way-too-euphemestic term of being "food insecure."
These students are hungry, and the sadness of that and the reality of that can't be overstated. (Nor should the shame of a few county commissioners trying to turn Robertson's appearance Wednesday into political grandstanding and agenda pushing. Wait, nothing negative today, right? Right.)
Where was I? That's right, telling you about real heroes doing really heroic things.
Robertson and her group ask for money to buy food and anyone's help for the 100-percent-volunteer staff. They meet on the first Wednesday of each month to pack an insane number of sacks for kids who otherwise would have little certainty from where their next meal would come.
It's as pure a pursuit as I can imagine, and it's a monstrous mountain that should make us shake with uneasiness.
Robertson told the commissioners that the organization was full in terms of the number of schools it could serve, including the recent addition of Normal Park, which is not exactly a school that goes hand-in-hand with the traditional images of the needy. She also said several schools were on their ministry's waiting list and multiple schools across the county had food closets, hygiene closets or clothes closets for students who needed help in any of those areas.
It's hard to fathom, but Robertson is making sure it's a predicament that will not go on without a fight.
She recognized some of her area real estate colleagues in attendance who through donations and fund-raisers helped her raise $54,000 — roughly a third of the mission's budget — recently.
It was a moving moment that should be duplicated, emulated and celebrated. Yes, there are several similar efforts around the county from other churches, and those folks also deserve kudos. But the far-reaching extension from Robertson and the grand folks at East Brainerd Church of Christ have this thing rolling to a place that real change can happen.
(Side question: Wonder how quickly a lot of folks would protest church and school getting together in a lot of other areas beyond this one, right? Wait, nothing negative today. Sorry.)
So as we celebrate the folks who helped our students reach new heights in the classroom, here's a tip of the visor to Janice, Anita and the folks at the Snack Pack Ministry for their grace, efforts and God-loving generosity.
Contact Jay Greeson at email@example.com.