By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The son of two retired teachers, Harry Rayburn couldn’t imagine not being involved with Tupelo’s schools.
“I think that education is an important part of everything we do and every part of our life,” said Rayburn, a local dentist and father. “Being involved was the only choice in my family. You put your time and your efforts into what you think is important.”
That dedication and the work it has fueled earned Rayburn recognition as the Tupelo Public School District’s Parent of the Year. Rayburn was honored during the district’s school board meeting at Joyner Elementary’s activity building on Tuesday night. The district also recognized the Parents of the Year from each of its schools.
Rayburn, a 1994 graduate of Tupelo High School, said that making time to volunteer at schools isn’t easy but is worth the effort.
“It has been very rewarding,” he said. “You will be amazed at how rewarding it is if you will honestly give yourself to what you are doing.”
Rayburn volunteers each week as an instructor in Carver’s Integrity Time program, which promotes honor, honesty and truth. He works with English Language Learners, serves on the school’s Title 1 School Improvement Team and volunteers in a number of other ways. Rayburn helped spearhead a private effort to raise money for the district’s pre-kindergarten school in 2010 and is active in the Association for Excellence in Education.
“Harry is the type of parent everyone longs for in the school system,” said Carver Elementary Principal Terry Harbin. “No job is too big or too small. He is willing to step up and help any child and any teacher do any job that needs to be done.”
Rayburn and his wife, Christine, have two children. Their daughter, Celie, is in second grade at Lawhon, and their son, Thomas, is in kindergarten at Carver.
Noting that he was the only male in this year’s group of Parents of the Year, Rayburn called for more men to be active.
“We definitely challenge men out there to get involved in the schools,” he said.
TPSD Parents of the Year
Harry Rayburn, Carver
Donna Clayton, ECEC
Leigh Ann Wise, Joyner
Amanda Scruggs, Lawhon
Ragan Milner, Lawndale
Sallie Belle Howell, Milam
Anne Britt, Parkway
Mandy Murff, Pierce Street
Nicola Agnew, Rankin
Sydney Wise, Thomas Street
Shelia Witt, Tupelo Middle
Juanita Floyd, Tupelo High