The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a foundation; all other stones are set in reference to this stone. In education, a solid “cornerstone” can mean all the difference for a child’s future. The love for learning is introduced during our first year in school. We all know how important first impressions can be. What a huge responsibility our early childhood teachers are entrusted with.
When I entered into my kindergarten classroom in 1998 I did not know that the “cornerstone” of my education was about to be laid. I could not conceive how over the next twelve years numerous teachers would continue to build upon this foundation. How blessed I have been that each of those teachers worked so diligently to see that my foundation would be solid. I just knew that school was fun.
The teacher responsible for laying that cornerstone is Mrs. Genevieve Garnes. Mrs. Garnes has a huge heart that she shares with each of her students. She never had to raise her voice. She would just ring her school bell and our class would scamper into line from all corners of the playground. I remember fondly sitting at the foot of her giant rocking chair as she opened up windows into different adventures as she read to us every day. She loved us, she took care of us, she challenged us, and she rewarded our efforts. Her concern for her students does not end when they graduate out of her classroom. She continues to check on their progress and offer up words of encouragement. Many years have passed since my year in her kindergarten class but she still asks my mom, “How’s our girl doing?” on a regular basis.
Mrs. Garnes is an incredible teacher and she has been recognized for her talents many times. She was Teacher of the Year at Altamaha Elementary in 2002 and at Appling County Primary in 2009. She was chosen as a WTOC Top Teacher in 2009. Mrs. Garnes is an important part in the award winning team at Appling County Primary and was one of the proud members to go to Washington DC to accept the National Blue Ribbon School award in 2008. She is truly one of those teachers that make a difference.
I looked through my old papers from kindergarten in hopes of finding inspiration for the perfect words to say tonight. I found this note written to me at the end of my kindergarten year that proves to be perfect for tonight…
“Remember reading will take you to the stars. If anyone can reach and touch those stars, you can. Reach high and do not settle for less. If you reach high enough you grasp it. If you settle for less, you will get that also. I love you and I believe in you.”
Mrs. Garnes, I followed your advice and tonight you and I have touched the stars. Thank you for believing in me. I hope that you know that I love you and believe in you too and that is why I have chosen you as my star teacher. Please welcome the Star Teacher for 2011 – Mrs. Genevieve Garnes.