What Is Your Why?
David Atchison is a teacher that no one will forget. Our short time watching and speaking with him proved that to us. The love and passion he has for his job and his students is extraordinary.
After presenting him with his 1st prize award, he sang a song with all the students. This is a song that all the students wrote with the help of Mr. Atchison. Bringing some of the students to the front to assist him in playing some of the instruments, he pulled out his banjo and started playing. Every student in the gym started singing along and the sight of it would make anyone’s heart smile. In that moment the glow of Mr. Atchison’s presence in these student’s lives was evident. He has a gift of connecting with his students and not just through music.
He started the school garden, as well as a butterfly garden on the school grounds that all the students love. Last summer he made it his mission to send each student home with a garden plant to care for over the summer. He sees the importance of getting kids outside and keeping them active in productive activities.
We All Have a Different Journey
He graced us with an interview, where we got to learn a little more about him. Starting off he told us that he felt unworthy of the award and started explaining how everyone at the school was just as deserving. The rest of the staff at Oliver Brown Elementary was amazing, but it certainly didn’t change our minds that Mr. Atchison was more than worthy of the award.
Starting off his young adult life he explored theater but decided if he wanted to make an honest living, he needed to finish his education degree. Graduating from college at age 32 and teaching for the last 32 years has taught and humbled him into the inspiring teacher he is today.
“Every person should have a ‘why’ for getting up and going to work every day.” Mr. Atchison explained. “Mine is my 12-year-old son that committed suicide.” This hit us like a boulder, the room went silent, and a silent tear fell down his face and ours. He continued “I have no regrets, we had 12 amazing years with him, but he drives me every day. He was smart, political, and presented as a happy kid. I have taught over 16,000 kids and I know 6, including my son that have commented suicide. A lot of kids consider it and the suicide age used to be 12 at the youngest, but now it has lowered to 10. Kids shouldn’t have those feelings and people believe that they can’t plan such a thing, but they are wrong.”
He is right, according to UCLA Health suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among ages 15-29 in the U.S and kidsdata.org reveals that in the last 10 years the suicide rate from ages 5-14 has increased by 219%.
Just a Little Advice
Mr. Atchison added “Good parenting and good teaching saves lives, mental health needs to be talked about more, children need to be heard and know they have a place to go when they feel like they can’t go anywhere else, and I want all my students to know that I will always be that person for them.”
After knowing Mr. Atchison for only an hour, we knew that nothing was more true. He is a teacher that puts the needs of his students first in the hopes of giving them the best education possible. His last statement was, “It’s easy to be a music teacher in an environment full of amazing kids and amazing staff, I’m the lucky one. After the pandemic every person operating the school is doing more than they must just to make this a great place for the students.”
Help Us Congratulate
A-R Roofing is confident that the 1st prize winner of the Heart of Teacher’s Award was awarded to the right person. Every student at Oliver Brown Elementary is blessed to have a Music Teacher like Mr. David Atchison. He humbled our hearts and inspired us to try to be our best every day.