A young woman who never dreamed she could go to college has just been accepted to Tennessee Tech University.
After years in special education, she is graduating with honors from Lenoir City High School this spring.
Emmagrace Thompson had a lot of support at home, but it was her fourth grade teacher who helped change the course of her life.
Melinda Moroz, now a first grade teacher at Eaton Elementary school in Lenoir City, begins each school day leading her class with a series of powerful messages.
The students shout phrases like, “I believe in myself.”
These are positive words that could last a lifetime.
Just ask high school senior Emmagrace Thompson. She is a former student of Mrs. Moroz’s, and remembers every word of an inspirational message board still in the classroom today.
“It says, ‘I am smart, Mrs. Moroz loves me, she believes in me and most of all, I believe in myself’ and that was something we did every single day, so that’s something I even carried with me,” Emmagrace told us.
“I’ve always struggled with confidence in myself,” she said, “always struggled thinking what other people think of me and I remember walking into Mrs. Moroz’s classroom and just a completely different envronment from anything I was used to.”
Mrs. Moroz came along at the right time for a little girl who had lots of athletic skills, but she was also in special education, struggling with three learning disorders, placed in Mrs. Moroz’s mainstream classroom.
Emmagrace’s mother, Cindy Hamilton, will never forget the day Melinda Moroz came into their lives.
“The day we came here for her fourth grade open house night, and Mrs. Moroz -it was almost like she had this gut instinct that there was a problem. And there were a room full of parents, a room full of kids but she zoned in on me and said, ‘What’s going on?'”
Mrs. Moroz remembers it well.
“With her momma and with Emmagrace and with myself and everyone involved, it was a team effort for her to say, ‘I can, I will, I’ll prove it,'” says a modest Mrs. Moroz. “…it was all collaborative.”
This week, Emmagrace has come back to present the special teacher with a symbolic gold cord like the one she will wear in May as she graduates with honors from Lenoir City High School.
“Thank you so much, ” said Emmagrace to her former teacher. “I want you to have this and carry this with you and know you have made a difference in my life. You really have. So I want to put this on.”
As teacher and former student hug, laugh, and shed a few tears, we say thank you to Melinda Moroz for putting action behind your words of wisdom, changing a young life forever.