Teaching Moments. Week 4!

This past week was absolutely full of blessings and teaching moments! I am still stretching out my sore hamstrings after Ann Marie and I worked out three times during the week, but she is fantastic at helping me strive toward my fitness goals! Oak Forest Cleaners in Little Rock did a wonderful job of cleaning spray tan from my dresses and even my white evening gown! Thank you to Allen Tillery Chevrolet for my first oil change and a car wash after 4,000 miles on my Buick Regal! I also enjoyed shopping at the Royal We in Conway, Solemates in Little Rock, and Dillard’s in Hot Springs… all sponsors of Miss Arkansas. I appreciate these businesses very much! They help make my job really fun!

My wardrobe committee! Renee, me, and Lacy!

Early Tuesday morning, my brother called to say that his wife was going into labor! My parents and sister rushed to the hospital in Little Rock through a horrendous thunderstorm and, thankfully, arrived safely. I had an appearance in DeWitt that morning and couldn’t go with them to the hospital. As I walked into the DeWitt High School Cafeteria, I received a text message from my excited sister about the arrival of our new niece! She is so beautiful, and our family is so proud of her!

Daddy, baby, and me!

While in DeWitt, I had the great privilege of speaking to all teachers in the school district! This was the first public speaking appearance where I was given the opportunity to share my platform of mentoring. Public speaking is seriously my favorite part of this job! I told stories about the girls I have mentored through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Organization and the Promise House shelter for pregnant teenagers. Concluding the speech, I challenged the teachers to recognize their unique position to influence youth as mentors! Teachers have direct contact with so many teenagers, some of whom have limited interaction with parents or other adults. Teachers have the opportunity to set a positive example, and I admire their work as mentors!

After speaking to the teachers, I was elated that many of them asked for pictures and autographs. One teacher gave some meaningful encouragement. She whispered, “I really appreciate the work you are doing with pregnant teenagers! I was a teenage mom and know the struggle. Not very many teenage moms have the strength or encouragement to make it as far as I have. That’s why I appreciate your message.”

On Thursday, I met Mrs. June Felix for lunch. Mrs. June is a board member for the Miss Arkansas Organization and long-time volunteer. I LOVED listening to her stories of the pageant, former director Bob Wheeler, and former Miss Arkansas titleholders. I still have a lot to learn, and visiting with Mrs. June was so enlightening!

Speaking to teachers of the DeWitt school district.

I love teachers!

The Back to School Bash in Fordyce was another powerful experience. I was astounded by the community support for these children, as there were so many teachers and adults handing out free school supplies, backpacks, and shoes and providing health screenings. I had fun signing autographs and dancing with the kids as we got excited about school. I spoke on stage for a brief time and played a question game with the kids. Whoever correctly answered the question received a paper crown to wear. Once she joined me onstage, I recognized that one particular 6-year-old young lady was the “Dancing Queen”. I asked her to teach me how to dance. When she readily agreed, the DJ played “Teach Me How to Dougie.” So… I tried it! Who knows if I did it well, but the audience loved it more than anything else!

All the kids who attended the Back to School Bash in Fordyce!

Girls waiting in line for an autograph!

During the week, the most overwhelming moment occurred as a mother asked for an autographed picture for her little girl. Once she told me the child’s name, I asked her how to spell it. The mom just smiled at me. I asked her again how to spell her daughter’s name. She then revealed, “I don’t spell.” Stunned, I simply wrote my name on a photo and smiled as I handed it to that sweet little girl. It was so humbling for me to realize that an illiterate mother doesn’t know how to spell her own child’s name. In that moment, I realized the purpose of my job. I realized the importance of a role model. I learned that I must take every opportunity to emphasize education, second chances, and reaching one’s personal potential. I hope I never forget this lesson.

I feel energized and ready for the week ahead of me! On Tuesday, I fly to Orlando for the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant. Ashton Campbell will be representing Arkansas and would be most grateful for all of our prayers. She is a beautiful and talented young woman… a true inspiration. While in Orlando, I will also meet the other 52 contestants vying for the title of Miss America! Miss Missouri will be my roommate for the week, and we will be attending banquets, dinners, video shoots, and the pageant with all of the Miss America contestants. On Thursday at 7:30 am, I will be filming a promotional video of “Why I could be the next Miss America.” Stay tuned for the YouTube link!


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