Tina Lif­ford hon­ors teach­ers

South Florida Times - - NEWS - By DAPHNE TAY­LOR Spe­cial for South Florida Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Tina Lif­ford said she didn't quite know what she was com­ing to when she ar­rived in South Florida Satur­day night as key­note speaker for the 13th An­nual My Teacher, My Hero Awards Gala held at the Palm Beach County Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

She had a lot of great acts to fol­low. The event has drawn pre­vi­ous key­note speak­ers like the legendary Hank Aaron, "Em­pire" cre­ator Lee Daniels, and life coach Iyanla Van­zant.

But the vet­eran ac­tress, a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional, adapted her speech to fit the theme of the evening --salut­ing teach­ers!

Lif­ford, who stars in the Oprah Win­frey show, "Queen Sugar" and for­merly of the TV hit, "Scan­dal," waxed bril­liantly as she wove sto­ries of an in­ner fear that gripped her much of her ca­reer, along with tales of not quite "know­ing" her­self as she navi- gated the world of act­ing into adult­hood.

Lif­ford said it was a teacher, who told her to "know thy­self," which sent her on a life­long quest to do just that. That was an ex­am­ple of a teacher who im­pacted her for the rest of her life.

Through­out the night, teach­ers were hon­ored for their em­pa­thy, their hu­mor, their abil­ity to en­gage par­ents, and even for their "ef­fec­tive dis­ci­pline."

"Teach­ers are chang­ing stu­dents' lives be­cause some­one has 'em­pa­thy' or 'ef­fec­tive dis­ci­pline.' That is so ex­cit­ing to me. The work of a teacher is first and fore­most driven by faith.

“It's a seed that's get­ting planted over time and bear­ing fruit, as in my life… year, af­ter year, af­ter year. I ap­plaud all of you for the work you're do­ing. I am a re­cip­i­ent of that work."

Lif­ford said she al­ways wanted to be an ac­tress since child­hood, but at the age of seven she had an ex­pe­ri­ence that stopped her from mov­ing for­ward in life -- even as an adult. At that ten­der age, she was on stage set to per­form and due to stage fright on that fate­ful night --only a few words came out of her mouth, and she went si­lent.

She didn't re­cover. She lit­er­ally had to be picked up and car­ried off the stage. She was teased re­lent­lessly and it left a scar that fol­lowed her well into adult­hood and into her adult act­ing ca­reer.

"I've been a work­ing for decades, but I haven't been "free" but for half of those years," she con­fessed.It was only as she em­barked on the jour­ney to "know thy­self" did she even­tu­ally be­come "free," she said.

"Ms. Lif­ford was ex­cel­lent," said Dr. Emma Banks, cre­ator of the awards cer­e­mony. Banks is the Pres­i­dent and CEO of In­let Grove Com­mu­nity High School in Riviera Beach and is com­mit­ted to pre­sent­ing a stel­lar cer­e­mony ev­ery year. She was re­cently given a speak­ing role on the hit TV show, "Em­pire," by the show's cre­ator Lee Daniels, who was key­note speaker at the same event a few years ago.

In­let Grove Foundation Board Chair­woman, Dr. Bar­bara Carey-Shuler said the evening was royal. "I woke up this morn­ing to a royal wed­ding, and now tonight is as royal!"

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF HAMIL­TON MULTIMEDIA

Mon­ica Banks, Emma Banks and "Queen Sugar's" Tina Lif­ford at the My Teacher, My Hero Awards Gala.

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