Teachers always make a difference. And there is nothing more important that a teacher can pass along to his students, than for them to believe in themselves as much as he does.
Trophies and plaques line the walls in the practice room at Jim Hill High School proving how good the choir is.
Some of the latest are on the table in front of the room. Best overall high school mixed choir in the Toronto Music Festival of 2009. There's district awards and state awards and awards for the men's choir and awards for the barber shop quartet.
Maybe James Hawkins, director of the Jim Hill choir for 16 years, overall teaching for 38 years, needs to be awarded some attention, too. Credit for not yielding to the temptation to write off students in an inner city urban school, but instead believing in them to the point that they believe in themselves, and then prove it in their performance.
James Hawkins: Choral Director, Jim Hill High School, Jackson.:
I really believe that the children in the inner city has talent beyond compare," said Hawkins. "And like other places have talent, too. But these children can do anything. And sometimes itneed to be shown, someone has to come and say I believe. I will always believe they can do, so I'm going to take them and show them that they can do it."
These talented students have been all over the world. And they've made believers world wide that inner city young people have it in them. But having it in you is one thing. Having it brought OUT of you is another.
Shana Wash gives credit to Mr. Hawkins for bringing her out.
"He has taught me so much as a musician," said Walsh. "But not only as a musician but as a person in general."
Charles Stanton says much the same thing about the choir and its leader, Mr. Hawkins.
"We went to great places and did great things under a great leadership," said Hawkins. "So I'm pretty proud to say I'm a part of Jim Hill choir."
And when the rest of us are looking for greatness, maybe we can take a lesson from the Jim Hill choir and look to our inner selves. And when Jackson searches for greatness, it needs look no further than its inner city.
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