Written by Tom Deighan, LPS Superintendent
We all remember them: The man who volunteered to drive every field trip. The woman we all called Grandma in elementary school. The countless men and women who earned the honorary title of Coach. These are the men and women who gave us a sense of community as children. They may have never said a word about commitment, kindness, or integrity, but we learned those ideals through their presence. For my daughters, it is Miss Diana, who taught their Sunday School class in elementary school. They are 22 years old now, and she still sends them an encouraging note at least once a month. For me, it was the couple who just seemed to show up at our classroom with cookies, silly stickers, and yes, juice boxes! It happened at one of my in-and-out elementary schools, so I do not even remember their names, but I remember the excitement when they popped in. They were institutions in their own right, and I will never forget how they made me feel part of their community.
At this point, you have likely realized that the Juice Box can be just about anything. The only two requirements are that it blesses the children in our schools and that it is done with consistency. Pencils, healthy snacks, and even simple bottles of water do the trick. For that matter, your Juice Box solution may just be spending time helping kids with their homework, mentoring, or listening as they read their favorite story. And sometimes the Juice Box is not even for the kids, because when you bless the educators who serve kids, you bless kids. Never doubt that donuts in the teachers’ lounge or an extra set of eyes on the playground make our kids’ days better. The light you see in a child’s (or educator’s) eye is not from a pencil, a snack, or a juice box; it is from your presence. Kids don’t need the stuff; they simply need dependable adults to back up their parents and teachers. The Juice Box is not important. You are.
Time is the most essential ingredient. Kids need time, repetition, and constancy to form lasting bonds with the adults around them. The juice box, pencil, or tutoring are all just reasons to show up. Adults believe in experts that live in other states; kids believe in experts who show up, and it does not have to be every day. After all, Christmas only happens once a year, but kids look forward to it more than any other day. For your Juice Box Solution to impact children’s lives, you only need to be consistent. Your story, visit, or silly stickers are merely chances for kids to model the highest adult behavior. The more caring, dependable role models they see in action, the better adults they will be, and we all want great adults living in this community as we get older. Children who are attached to this community and its adults will more likely build their lives here, visit your businesses, work with you, and worship in your churches.
The Juice Box Solution is about investing in our children, pure and simple, and we have the best examples to follow right here in Lawton: The man who carves messages on pecans. The retired superintendent who shows up on hot days with popsicles for the football players. The churches providing coats. Businesses providing mentors and apprenticeships. Teachers buying meals on fieldtrips. Countless parents showing up to help the band, FFA, and athletes. I heard a man talk this week about living all over the world but always thinking of Lawton as home. That’s what the Juice Box Solution is all about. Next week, we will truly dare to dream the dreams of our children by putting the final piece in place.