My heroes are those who quietly go about their work, do a masterful job, rarely seek the spotlight, and show love to each and every child they meet.
That describes Jane Sellers, who headed the Clarke County HIPPY program since it started 10 years ago. HIPPY (Home Instruction For Parents Of Pre-School Youngsters) is special to me and I was honored to serve as chair of its state advisory board for several years. The program works with four and five-year olds. Parent-educators visit the child’s home for 32 weeks where they role play a lesson with the person teaching the child, usually the mother.
This person then spends the week teaching that lesson. In other words, HIPPY brings school to the child. And in many, many cases, it is the adult who benefits as much as the child. Mothers who never finished high school and often lack self-confidence often discover things about themselves they did not know. Plus, the parent-educator becomes aware of situations in a home that need attention.
Jane retired after nearly three decades as a public school teacher before some people in Clarke County found her and talked her into taking on a brand-new “part-time” job as the county HIPPY coordinator.
She hit the ground running and over the last decade touched hundreds of young lives (and some not so young) in southwest Alabama. She rallied a community through perseverance and her undying love for children. I have written about Jane and her HIPPY program several times. Here and here for example.
Not long after meeting her I realized that “no” was never the right answer when talking to her. It’s over 300 miles from Montgomery to Grove Hill and back. How many times did I make that trip because Jane wanted me to? I attended graduations where 300 people showed up at Grove Hill elementary the cheer on little ones getting a certificate.
I rode with Jane to homes on dirt roads that I doubt a GPS could find. I saw children coping with living conditions that most in this state have no clue even exist. And I saw her always greet these boys and girls with a smile and a pat on the back.
But now, Jane has retired as of the end of May. She will spend much more time with her grandchildren in Tennessee. And husband Gary will spend much less time as Clarke County’s HIPPY go-fer.
While I often write about the endless grand plans and mis-steps of some of our so-called education “leaders,” I never forget that it is the Jane Sellers of this world who are making the real impact on young lives.
Jane has well earned her retirement (again). I often say that those who work with young people are truly doing the Good Lord’s work. Jane Sellers epitomized this.