Jared Felkins: Allow me to introduce you to the best class ever

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” — Steve Jobs
May 10, 2014

Editor’s Note: The following is the last in a series of columns highlighting the experiences of Leadership Wilson’s class of 2014 as it toured Wilson County and learned about all it had to offer. 

It’s all over. 

A few months ago down the stretch of the Leadership Wilson experience, I would ask myself when would this whole thing finally be finished? I’m sure I’m not alone. There are probably several people in my class or any of the other 19 classes who felt the same way at some point along this journey. Short and simple, life happens. 

Things get in the way. At the start, there was the “I can conquer the world” attitude. But soon work, family and just about everything else got in the way of charitable domination. 

I’m speaking for myself, but there was the point in time where catching up became a necessity to fulfill the requirements. It was the same with our group project. It was tough, and I feel guilty for not pulling my weight. 

As the months turned to weeks and finally days before graduation, I know at least my feelings turned to relief. It was almost over. We had done it. We had enacted change, raised money, started new traditions and learned quite a bit along the way. 

So just who was this “we” I’ve so affectionately referred to all this time. 

Well let me introduce you to the best class ever – the Leadership Wilson class of 2014 – along with a few traits I picked up from each. 

There’s Nancy Ash, who taught me class comes through one’s actions and what one says. Heather Bay taught me that it’s OK to show just a little vulnerability though the toughness ever once in a while. Toni Burton showed me there’s nothing wrong with being outspoken. 

Matt Caldwell taught me how to carefully pick my battles. Lisa Chaney showed me a little caring goes a long way. Gregg Clarke taught me anyone can learn a lot from a well-asked question. 

Leo Collins taught me something about strength through adversity. Allen Craig showed me some innovative ways to problem solving. Deb Daugherty taught me about going the extra mile for others. 

Stephanie Gray made me feel young again. Medana Hemontolor taught me about sticking to what one likes. Kristin Howard showed me meekness can be strong. 

Ray Hubner showed me there’s always room for a good laugh. Jeff Joines showed me service to others pays off. Angel Kane taught me how it’s OK to show respect even to one’s adversaries. 

Chad Karl showed me faith is strong. Trey Marshall taught me the law isn’t always the final word. Beau Massengille gave out kindness often. 

Mallory Maxwell taught me about the importance of life. Wilson McCoy showed me how important it is to listen. Denise McMillan offered a lesson in kindness. 

Joy Moran gave out compassion often. Adrian Muniz was good about keeping a secret, especially when it came to my snoring. Tina Pressley taught me how a helping hand speaks volumes about one’s character. Sean Rabe shared his knowledge of both fantasy football and knowing you can never know it all. 

Rusty Richardson taught me pride without being boastful. Kim Schick showed me hard work really is about rolling up one’s sleeves and digging in. Gary Soloway taught me a little something about cleverness. 

Tanisha Truss showed me loyalty speaks volumes. Phyllis Webb taught me a new eye for photography. And finally Pam Wiggins offered up fun at every turn. 

So there you have it. If some of these descriptions appear to be ambiguous, well, they are. Even some of my own classmates may not get them. But I get it. Plain and simple, they’re all great, and I’m not worthy to be in the same class with them. 

Now that graduation is over, it brings about new feelings. Even though all the meetings, tours and projects are finished, we all have friendships that will last a lifetime. 

It may be over, but it’s all just begun. 

Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins. 


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