What an Education Means to Me  

What an Education Means to Me

by Sandra Jo Nipper

[NOTE: I wrote the following essay in the fall of 1961 as an eighth grader at North City Elementary School, Palos St., Athens, TN. This was two years prior to the assassination of President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. The winning essay from each city school was printed in the The Daily Post-Athenian. There were no prizes associated with the contest, but publication of my writing for the first time meant the world to me. Here then, is my entire essay printed in our local newspaper many years ago!]


EDITOR'S NOTE: This week is American Education Week and the local school systems are participating in this observance with special events. Starting today The Daily Post-Athenian will carry a series of articles called "What An Education Means To Me." These articles are themes which have been written by the upper classmen of the elementary schools.


In this space age, education is one of the most essential things needed to maintain a successful life, but before we have an education we must have common sense. We need it in order to realize why it is necessary to have an education, and we must have common sense enough to want an education.

SOME SMALL children haven't realized yet why they need an education. That is why they say, "I don't want to go to school," or "Do I have to go to school today?" Then their mother will answer them with the logical answer.

If you should have an experience like this, tell them to simply follow in the trail of a small boy who grew up to be famous. We all know this man. His name is John F. Kennedy. I don't think he ever asked his mother that question. His grandfathers were powerful men in Boston politics. His father earned his first million dollars by the age of 30. He was also interestsed in politics. Joseph Kennedy had many ideas about the rearing of children. When his sons competed in contests, they were expected to win. Second best was never good enough.

His parents asked him questions on government, history, and current events to build up his worldly knowledge. He was expected to back his answers by facts. He attended school in Connecticut and then went to Harvard.

We children of today think our parents make it hard on us. When we think this, just remember about John Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy didn't know that some day he would be President, but he went to school and got an education and later on became president. Some day you might be president, and of course, you would want to do your job correctly. Prepare for the future. Act now for a happy, successful life.

TODAY IN this twentieth century, what would we do without an education? We would be considered illiterate.

With war close to the threshold, what would we do without an education? We couldn't read the newspapers nor the magazines. We wouldn't understand what the radio or television announcers were saying if they used large, proper words or technical terms. If we didn't have an education, how would we know about the development of the Berlin situation and the Communistic dictatorship trying to take over parts of the free world?

How would we know about the space travel development or the man-to-the-moon program? How would we know what was going on around us without an education?

We could do none of these things without a grammar school education, but with a college education we might possibly take part in the public and national affairs.

The children of today are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. It is your duty, as an adult, to help them to learn as much as possible so that some day they may fill in your job. Who knows what will test our strength, will power, and our knowledge in the future?

WHO KNOWS what sort of an education we will need to survive in the future? We as students in school can be prepared for the future by learning all we can, while we can, in such a way as to benefit ourselves, our family, and our nation.

Let's be prepared for the future by having an education. An education means all these things to me and more. I hope we all get a proper education. Let's salvage every bit of knowledge we can for the future.

I will.

Will you?

©1999--present year by Sandra N. Ratledge. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any reproduction or inclusion of this website's contents in publication whether online or in print is prohibited. Do NOT copy photographs and upload on Find a Grave or any other internet websites, blogs, attach to family trees, or print in publications. Do NOT copy stories, articles, documents, sketches, anecdotes, letters, obituaries, content data, etc. and attach to family trees or upload on other websites of any kind.

Sandra Ratledge

This site is dedicated to the memory of my mother,
Beulah Cline Nipper, a beautiful product of the Knobs.