I think I have mentioned it quite a few times on here, but I am from Union. It was quite a big school system which included two middle schools and a high school with over 2400 bodies an any given day. I was in the first class of Burnet Middle School (formerly Burnet Junior High) as a 7th grader and had your typical 7th-grade awkward experience. My saving grace was the variety of clubs we had. The one that had my interest from day one was the Kiwanis Builders Club.
No, we didn’t physically build stuff. It was a community service club where we volunteered around town. It was the basis for the high school Key Club, Circle K in college, and Kiwanis International for us who eventually grow up. I was always looking to help out where I could. As much as I helped out that club, that club helped me. It helped me realize that service was going to be my path in life.
The advisor was Joan Estis. Miss Estis was awesome. She was a huge fan of the comic Ziggy, always smiling, always talking about how we could help others both in school and around Union. From food drives to Easter-egg hunts, members of the community appreciated our efforts. It was never the quantity with Miss Estis; it was the what and the why.
For my two years in Builders Club, I did everything I could. At the middle-school graduation, I earned one of the most prestigious honors, the Nicholas Dispinziere Award, for outstanding community service. I still have my plaque and the speech that Miss Estis read. My mom still talks about it. It was, and still is, that cool. Again, it wasn’t about the award; it was the what and the why.
I was an officer in both Key Club and Circle K, but once out of college, I never found a club that I could join. That was OK, though. It wasn’t about the club; it was about giving back. As a police officer, I gave back. As a teacher, I gave back. As an administrator and now a superintendent of schools, I still give back. It’s who I am and who I will always be. I owe that to Miss Estis, a teacher I never had for a class yet the one who taught me so much about life.
I just read that Miss Estis is retiring in June. From the bottom of my heart, I say, “Thank You!” You’ll never know how many lives you’ve been a part of. Besides students, you’ve influenced so many in showing scads of club attendees that we can be good people.
I hope retirement is everything and more for you, Miss Estis. If it’s not, there’s always a club where you can become involved.