Influencing outside social media

Published 7:00 am Friday, November 17, 2023

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On a weekend trip to visit my daughter in Gulfport, Mississippi, we shopped at a “Christmas City” event. I met an author there, a former journalism instructor named Fran McNabb who had retired, written several books and was selling her novels at the event

We exchanged information. I described my role as a regional editor and how my own high school journalism teacher had nurtured my desire to eventually pursue a writing career. 

In 1989, long before the recent trend of social media influencing, Tanya Sells ignited a spark in me, a low-burning ember which would eventually explode into an intense and all encompassing need to explore journalism full time. 

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McNabb reminded me of Mrs. Sells. As I reflected on my own experience, I confirmed for her how many students she must have similarly influenced. 

Undoubtedly, there are countless teachers and coaches who nurture the talents of students in Butler, Lowndes and Crenshaw counties. 

One of those, Marlon Davidson, a Greenville Hugh graduate, is defensive end for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL). 

Antjuan Ball, a former Central High School student-athlete from Lowndes County became a Harlem Globetrotter and is now encouraging student-athletes to hone their skills. 

Another man, Luverne High School alumnus Ryan Waters, is living his dream as a rising country music star in Nashville.  

A coach or several coaches at GHS and Central fostered future professional athletes Davidson and Ball. A music or choir teacher helped Waters home his natural talents. Many other young men and women grew up to be better people, successful employees, leaders, mothers and fathers thanks to a teacher’s loving instruction.

I took the time to encourage McNabb and while I am not sure where Mrs. Sells is now, I hope she knows what an impact she made on my life

Take time to tell your influencers how much their efforts meant to you. Along the way, I hope you will also take the time to be that person for someone else.