Jan. 2012 Column

    January is National Mentoring month. For that reason, you may have heard HMS Mentoring Coordinator Eppie Calderon on radio spots this month or making presentations at various service clubs around the city. Our school district currently has 105 adults who serve as mentors, usually spending one lunch hour per week with a student at his or her school building. Nationally, mentors are critical to the continued improvement of our society. On the local level, they can serve as positive role models and can make a drastic impact in the life of a child or teen.
    
January is a month to salute the current mentors who volunteer in schools, serve as coaches, act as Big Brothers or Big Sisters or help our youth in other ways. The month is also  a time to honor those who have acted as mentors, sometimes unwittingly, in the past.
    
For that reason, I would like to share a few stories about the mentor who  impacted my life. John Spradling was my sixth grade teacher at Mountain View Elementary  School in Tucumcari.  Mr. Spradling was truly a disciplinarian.  I felt the wrath of his paddle a few times, well deserved I might add. I needed a strong personality to direct my educational endeavors.
    
Mr. Spradling also served as a volunteer coach for our youth football, basketball and city track teams. I can remember, as though it were yesterday, going to Mr. Spradling’s house after school and having him demonstrate the method to properly roll baseball pants down on our socks to obtain the look of a professional baseball player, circa 1970.
    
In many ways, my sixth-grade year was similar to that of most kids. I spent time at the chalk board participating in math relay races, reading out loud, doing vocabulary and spelling drills and making Valentines for everyone in class.  I also loved Mr. Spradling.  He later moved to Artesia where he became a Middle School principal.  I was fortunate to spend time with him during my adult life. When Mr. Spradling retired from education, he became a representative of a company that sold senior class rings and graduation announcements.  I was his first client as a high school principal.  We spent hours talking about who we know back in the day as well as what was happening in education trends at the time.  I know Mr. Spradling impacted several young men beside me during his tenure. He made me feel important because he was one of the first people I remember who actually made time in his schedule for me.  
    
Mr. Spradling passed away from a brain aneurism a few years back.  I was so fortunate to be able to let him know how much he impacted a young man during his critical years of development.  As a mentor, we don’t always know who or how we impact someone’s life. But believe me, there is an impact.  Thanks so much to those who serve as mentors.  You are making a difference!
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