True suc­cess story

The Sentinel-Record - - OPINIONS - Mo­ti­va­tional speaker, con­sul­tant and ra­dio pro­ducer Jim David­son

As my pas­tor, Don Chan­dler, of­ten says “It is im­por­tant to keep the text in the con­text.” This simply means that we are able to cor­rectly in­ter­pret a par­tic­u­lar pas­sage of scrip­ture if we know the au­thor, un­der­stand the times, con­di­tions and cir­cum­stances for when it was writ­ten, and know to whom it was writ­ten.

This is my heart­felt de­sire as I share some­thing that is very im­por­tant with you to­day. Now to the con­text: Back in 1980, I be­gan a daily ra­dio pro­gram and have writ­ten more than 1,400 ra­dio pro­grams. In 1995, I be­gan a weekly news­pa­per col­umn and have now writ­ten more than

1,200 of these. Please un­der­stand that I say this to the Glory of God and never to boast.

Now to the text: The rea­son I share this is be­cause in all of my writ­ing I have never be­fore sin­gled out a high school stu­dent to say that he is a true suc­cess. I want to do that to­day, be­cause there is a young man here in my com­mu­nity who is very de­serv­ing of this honor. His name is JoVoni John­son, and be­fore shar­ing the de­tails I want to make a full dis­clo­sure. Back in 2005, when he was 4 years of age and a Head Start child from a low-in­come, sin­gle-par­ent home, JoVoni re­ceived a per­son­al­ized, oak book­case and a starter set of books from our Con­way Book­case Project.

Fast for­ward to our project’s Awards Cer­e­mony in 2016, where JoVoni told a story about his book­case. He told us that as a child he would pass the book­case with his name on it, and he de­cided he wanted to have some books in his book­case. He said his mother told him the only books he could have in his book­case were those he had read.

Later in an in­ter­view with Tammy Keith for a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle, JoVoni stated that he at­tributes much of his aca­demic suc­cess to a love of read­ing in­spired by the Con­way Book­case Project. He says “I think it got me off to a jump start as far as me learn­ing to like to learn. You learn to search for knowl­edge.” He re­mem­bers get­ting the book­case. “I think we went to a church and I re­mem­ber me think­ing it was a big deal, and my mom dressed me up for it. The book­case came with some books to get started read­ing, and my mom had a deal — I couldn’t put books in there till I read them. I’d read a book, put it in there; read a book, put it in there.”

Well, he con­tin­ued to read, and when he came to talk to us in 2016, he was al­ready get­ting schol­ar­ship of­fers from col­leges be­cause of his grades. He was also the backup quar­ter­back for the Con­way Wam­pus Cat foot­ball team.

JoVoni has grown to be an out­stand­ing young man. He is a se­nior in high school with a 4.21 grade-point av­er­age, an ACT score of 34, pres­i­dent of the se­nior class, and one of only seven in the county to be named as a Na­tional Merit Schol­ar­ship semi­fi­nal­ist. He is also start­ing quar­ter­back for the foot­ball team, lead­ing them to a record of 10-3, win­ning one game in the play­offs, in our state’s high­est clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

Now, you can see why we are all so proud of him and how he has be­come a “poster child” for our book­case project. What makes me feel so good about him and why I con­sider him a true suc­cess is that, while he is a great ath­lete, if he gets hurt and can’t play foot­ball down the road, his aca­demic suc­cess will carry him any­where he wants to go for the rest of his life! He says he wants to ma­jor in eco­nom­ics and mi­nor in his­tory.

Now for the con­clu­sion: When we started our book­case project back in 2005, we had a vi­sion that we could help preschool chil­dren be­ing reared in low-in­come homes by inspiring them to read, and keep read­ing un­til they charted a course that would change their lives for­ever. There are chil­dren like JoVoni all across Amer­ica wait­ing for us to help them. Please join us.

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