When Rodney was in second grade, his family moved to a small town in northeast Arkansas. It was right before Christmas, and his family was not well off. They were drifters, and just the year before, had spent a significant amount of time without power in their home. Their clothing was not the best, his parents drank a lot, and they didn’t eat well.
Rodney arrived at school in the middle of rehearsals for the Christmas play, and the introduction to his new music teacher was not good. Ms. Hughes did not seem pleased by his untimely arrival and interruption of her preparations. She parked him in the front row of the Christmas place simply because he was so small and needed a place to stand.
One day before the program, he woke up with a finger nail infected, and it stung and scared him. His mom didn’t give it much thought, but at school, his finger was hurting.
Rodney, made a commotion about the pain while Ms. Hughes spoke to his teacher in the days leading up to the Christmas play. Their conversation interrupted, Ms. Hughes asked what was wrong. Rodney showed her his hand, and she immediately took him to the school nurse.
The infection was tended to, and Rodney was told to keep it clean and change the band aid every day. Then something happened he would not have expected. Ms. Hughes took notice of his need, and went out and bought him band aids. But it didn’t stop there. In the weeks and months that followed, she kept her eye out for both Rodney and his brother. She paid for school supplies, clothing, haircuts, and even a doctor visit.
Her care continue through the summer as she brought Rodney and his brother up to stay with her for a week at her home, showing him a home that free of drugs and alcohol. She prayed for them, took them to Vacation Bible School, and shared Jesus with them. She genuinely cared for the boys and took care of needs, and became a game changer in Rodney’s life.
From as early as age 4, Rodney knew he didn’t want the alcohol and drugs and the life of misery his parents lived. Through Ms. Hughes investment in his life, he saw how life could be different that what he had known. She went to bat for him and helped him see how he could escape the downward spiral. Through her, he saw his life could be different and follow a different path.
Rodney is now 37. His parents have since passed away, his mother dying from drug and alcohol use. But at least once a year, he makes time visit to see Ms. Hughes. She is family to Rodney, and he calls her Grandma Hughes for his son Davin.
He loves her, this music teacher who offered him hope. To this day, she is his hero.