BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
GREENFIELD (November 16) – State Representative Tandy Darby returned to his alma mater on Tuesday to explain his role to second through fifth graders at Greenfield School.
With new English Language Arts curriculum that has each age level reading about the same subject simultaneously, the brief presentation in the elementary gym helped the pages on government come to life.
After a brief introduction by Principal Jeff Cupples and a pop state trivia quiz on everything from the capital city to the state animal, Darby smiled and acknowledged the group was one of the largest he’d addressed. Then he called on helpers to assist with an interactive overview on how bills become law.
His chosen subject for the proposed bill drew immediate response. Hisses and boos followed his proposal that a new law could be enacted to create a sixth day of school.
After walking the students through the process, he let the pretend House and the pretend Senate (comprised of the students in the audience) cast their votes.
The bill overwhelmingly failed. Later, however, during a question-and-answer period, one girl’s request for more play time did receive cheers.
In his comments, he encouraged the children to continue their study of government and to pursue ways they could make positive change.
“I didn’t know anything about the legislature,” he acknowledged to the youngsters of his life before being elected to represent the 76th District. “I sell bell peppers and cucumbers for a living.”
But on a recruiting trip to Texas with his daughter Tess, he met a gentleman that he says, “God put in front of me.”
After a conversation, the man told him, “You are going to get to be 70 years old and wished you’d given back.”
So, the businessman and farmer returned to Tennessee and started to pursue service.
He shared that, after his election as a state representative, when first asked what legislative committees he would choose, he responded with committees within his knowledge base. But with the encouragement of educational leaders, he asked for higher education. He says that choice has been an “eye-opening experience” and offered praise for educators in the room and across the state.
He admonished the students to see their principals and teachers as the “service sector” and to follow their lead.
“The one thing I ask is for you to look at the principal, look at the teachers, and ask, ‘how can I be a better citizen, how can I help?’” he said. “Go home and ask your mom if you can fold the clothes … or anything to help. The one thing I regret is not starting at your age. Start the accountability, the responsibility now.”