From the desk of Mike Dabney

Thursday, May 31, 2001

I woke this morning with my mind, heart and soul set on freedom, sang by the Marked Tree Fourth Grade Choir under the direction of Mrs. Vicki Stoddard, on Monday night (May 21). Our elementary school celebrated Memorial Day on fine fashion. The third grade joined in with a remembrance of Francis Scott Key, who was an attorney. Actually, he wrote the Star Spangled Banner, as most of you know. Vicki led them in "Arkansas is the Best of the Fifty Nifty, United States, from Thirteen Original Colonies." Martin Luther King was remembered, "I have a dream, Let freedom Ring."

Each of us knows of the fine men of the Tri-City Area who gave their lives to our nation's freedom, that these bright young ladies and gents might delight us with their life and voices. I was mindful of those utmost sacrifices as I listened to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of some of those men sing for us of their freedoms.

If that was all that Vicki did for us Monday, it would have been better than I have described. But there is more. She was one of several hardworking elementary staff and teachers at noon on Tuesday supervising and refereeing the Talent Contest at the Elementary School cafeteria. But she could not keep the birds away. They had a great time, with so much talent, I was in awe. I saw Michael Jackson and many country music stars, and "Just My Imagination" with Josh doing the soul.

But wait, who was that hard working lady? Vicki Stoddard is the wife of Chad Stoddard, who pastors Central Baptist Church in Marked Tree. Taking me back away, she was one of 28 graduates of Williford High School, attended Williams Baptist and ASU, and degreed in Vocal Music Education in 1995. She took off for three years, because keeping track of Chad was a fulltime job. She has taught at Marion.

She is in her second year with our Elementary School Music Program. She has energy and ideas. She teaches K thru 6 in general music, everything from melody to rhythm to instruments and games. Her main goal is to foster a love and enjoyment of music in her students.

I keep going back to our teachers, maybe because our school is under fire, both numerically and financially. Those that we trust our children to deserve to be encouraged, and supported. We need to give back to them as much as they give to our children.

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