Celebrating my Dad

My dad retired from a long career in education yesterday. This is the speech I gave at his reception.

I’ve always gone to work with my dad. When I was little I would go with him into the office on Saturday mornings. He was the manager of an oilfield company and liked going in on Saturdays to sort out all the time sheets. I would go with him and separate the yellow and pink carbon copies. He gave me a dollar because he felt bad I was there instead of watching cartoons. Little did he know, there was no place I would have rather been.

When dad transitioned back into education, I was starting the fifth grade and he was my principal. Every morning I woke up early and went to work with him before 6:30. I would sit at the little table in his office and do homework. The days I was not in school, I could be found at school with him. During this time he taught me some valuable lessons. One being your position does not mean you are better than anyone else. When he became a principal for the first time, the first thing he did was paint over the parking spot that said principal.

When we lived in Sundown, his office was always just down the hall from me. I got to learn many important lessons from him during this time. One was to celebrate. When he was the elementary school principal at Sundown, he dove from a high dive fully dressed because of scores on state test.

When I no longer was going to work with my dad, I continued to learn lessons from him.  One of the most important being it is important to have fun with you job. When he was a superintendent, he would take a tour of all the elementary schools playing his guitar and singing. I don’t know who loved it more, the kids, teachers, or him.  One year, a kid went home and told his mom the boss came to sing to them. The mom was so confused because Bruce Springsteen just happened to be in the area for  a concert at the same time!

As I was preparing for today, like any good educator, I started with looking at the definition of retire. The definition of retire is: leave one’s job and cease to work, typically upon reaching the normal age for leaving employment.

Although my dad is retiring, I really don’t feel this definition fits for him. I do not consider him leaving his job or ceasing to work. I don’t feel this way because his “job” and his “work” are so much bigger than one location and one title.

I have never once heard my dad complain about having to go to work. He has discussed the stress and frustrations (who hasn’t with texas education), but never has he said I hate going to work. His work is part of who he is not just what he does. Dinner discussions always surround education. We are the children that knew the name Ruby Pain and listened to the Teddy Stoddard story in the car on vacation. The topic of Emotional Intelligence could be heard in daily discussions.

His work is a passion, a passion for education for all, a quality education for all and he has done everything he can to make sure the children of Texas are getting the best education they can. He wants ALL children to have the same opportunities. I really believe his passion came out of his own experience. My grandmother loved to learn, but never had the opportunity to go to college. She was a school bus driver by day and encyclopedia reader by night. My grandfather did not finish high school and worked construction. Dad was encouraged to go to junior college and then a local state school. He saw the impact of being a first generation college student. He saw how it only took one generation for the role of education to be forever changed in a family.

You see even though he is leaving this building today he is not leaving his passion. His passion will continue as he takes a different road on his journey.

I am so lucky to have a dad who has taught me the value of living your passion.  What we do is no different from who we are. Since I can remember he has told me and mandy he just wants us to be happy. He has modeled for us to be happy you must be passionate about your career, your work. He also taught us it is important we make a difference for others, not just ourselves. He never once sat us down to tell us, but he showed us. He showed us that if we love what we are doing and feel passionate about it, we will work hard and we will want to work, not feel like we have to.

Education is better off because Dr. Edd Bigbee is part of it. His impact reaches further than he can ever imagine. He has two daughters in education because of his influence on their lives.

I have no doubt his passion for education will lead him in new ways, including playing and teaching his grandchildren. Every time I see him play with my son, my heart melts knowing Keaton is so lucky to have a papa that cares not just about his education, but also for other kids who aren’t lucky enough to have him as their papa.

I am who I am and passionate about my work, because my dad showed me. He is an example of hard work, dedication, perseverance, fun, and humility.


One response to “Celebrating my Dad”

  1. Amy, I wish I knew your dad better. It’s been many years since we’ve crossed paths, and I hope that we’ll have a chance to get together one day.

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