As professionals, they have taught, mentored and loved hundreds of children in their careers. As mothers, each raised three children, now adults and enjoying their own families and professions.
Shirley Washington, retired principal of Oak Park Elementary School, returned to the school Friday to read a favorite story, “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch, to an overflowing cafeteria of mothers and children at a brunch honoring mothers.
Glinda Foots, an English teacher at Pine Bluff High School and an adjunct professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, motivated students, moms and family to “think about it, act on it, get it done” as a means of achieving goals, whether large or small.
A generational tale, “Love You Forever,” tells the story of a mother’s love from her son’s birth through his growing years to adulthood, with the refrain, “I’ll love you forever; I’ll love you for always; as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be,” occurring throughout the stages of his development and ending with his singing the same refrain to his baby daughter.
“There will never, ever in your life be anyone who will love you more than your mother,” Washington told the assembly. “This is not to dishonor fathers because they love you, too, but there is nothing as strong as a mother’s love.”
In introducing her, Beverly Jones, the current Oak Park principal, described Washington as a “living legacy.” From the reception Washington received from students, staff and moms, the description rang true.
Expecting to spend Sunday fellowshipping and enjoying a meal with her family, including her two sons and a daughter, Washington said there is nothing like the beauty of family.
“They are important to me,” she said of her children — an educator, a business owner and a registered nurse. “And it was important that they do well.”
Her mantra in raising her children and in interacting with others, she said, is “love, give, serve.”
Speaking to the mothers, Foots said they have the task of molding and shaping their children into productive human beings.
To the students, she said, “Your job is to honor your mother, to do your very best. You can’t do better than that.”
Foots also challenged them to learn, because “once you’ve got it, you’ve got it forever.”
After the program, she said the best thing mothers can do in preparing their children for success is to start early and to stress excellence in everything they undertake.
“Teachers are ready and willing to assist you in anyway they can,” Foots said.
Foots, whose family includes two daughters and a son, said the order of the day will be a family gathering.
“We’ll get together and reminisce about the good times we’ve shared,” she said.