Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

School teachers are those of that noble breed that do what they do because they wish to influence young minds.  They work long hours and face numerous people issues when dealing with the public, students, parents and school administrators.  But day-to-day they go to school with the ideal they will make a difference, if only with just one student.  Sometimes they never see the long term positive impact they have on the kids they teach, but everyone has one teacher that has made an impact on their life in some way. 

Mine was Mrs. Wilson, my 7th grade Texas history teacher. She had this way of making history about people, not just dates and facts. She had a special knack for keeping us 7th graders involved and interested – a difficult thing to do with kids that age.  All of my favorite Texas history heroes came to life in her classroom: Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Jim Bonham, and General Sam Houston, to just name a few.   

She also introduced me to another important Texas hero and lawyer named William Barrett Travis. I was always the first in the class to volunteer to be Travis.  He was the reason I became a lawyer.

Like my grandmother, who was also a teacher, Mrs. Wilson stressed to me the importance of public service and she played an influential part in my career choice to become a prosecutor, judge and congressman.  I won’t ever forget Mrs. Wilson or the role she had in teaching me the importance of understanding our history and the duty of public service. 

But the teacher that had the most impact on my life wasn’t mine at all.  She was a 2nd grade teacher at Oaks Elementary School in Atascocita that took a special interest in the life of a little girl. 

While growing up in the Humble-Kingwood area, Kara did the normal things that kids did like playing soccer and swimming on the local swim team with her brother and two sisters. 

But upon entering elementary school, Kara spoke some words with difficulty and her speech patterns were not really satisfactory.  This began to affect her socially and really bruised her young self-image. Her teacher, Ms. Morgan, realized Kara’s speech issues and took it upon herself to get personally involved. 

Ms. Morgan was determined to help this little girl and worked with her in pronouncing those English words correctly.  She and a speech therapist took their time to provide assistance to her.  Their personal attention and expertise made a lasting impact on Kara’s life.

This little girl overcame her difficulties and now speaks perfect English, with an exceptional Texas accent.  All thanks to one of America’s dedicated school teachers helping out one child at a time. 

But there is more.  Kara began to gain self-confidence and self-esteem in academics and extra curricular activities.  Kara transferred to a private school for high school and played four years of basketball and graduated valedictorian of her class.

Then she was off to college where she worked while finishing her Bachelor of Science Degree with a grade point average of 3.88 in Interdisciplinary Studies, English and History.  She continued her quest for higher education by earning a Masters Degree in English with nothing less than a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

But, that wasn’t the end of the road for Kara’s quest for higher education.  It took her less than four years to receive her Doctoral Degree from the University of Louisville in Rhetoric and Composition.  All of this before she turned 30 years of age.

Today, that little girl that had difficulty speaking in the second grade is an Associate Professor of English at Baylor University on the tenured track.  Dr. Kara Poe Alexander, my daughter, is a member of this noble profession like her mother, both grandmothers and sisters, Kim and Kellee.  But her success would not have been possible without her second grade teacher, Ms. Morgan, personally volunteering to help her. 

Day in and day out, America’s school teachers help numerous children become all they can be.  Kara’s story is just one of the many lives changed by the attention of a teacher. So as another school year gets underway, I want to thank our teachers for what they do.  Your tireless dedication makes a difference.  

And that’s just the way it is.