Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

The Business of Education

The uncharacteristically warm days these past few weeks had me climbing into the attic to retrieve my summer clothes in anticipation of the spring and summer days ahead. Grabbing what I thought to be a box of summer shirts, turned out instead to be old scrapbooks and albums.

First G

Mrs Hope – First Grade Class Finley Road Elementary, Rock Hill, SC  1966

Feeling nostalgic, I found myself perusing through a worn binder filled with grade school pictures and most of my early report cards. I laughed when I read the comments from my first and second grade teachers who cited “Billy is much too talkative” and “Billy is a really busy boy,” which was polite southern speak for “Billy simply cannot stay in his seat!”

The truth is I was a very bad student in elementary school and there is a real place in heaven for those teachers whose patience was extremely taxed teaching such an immature and talkative kid. It was not until high school that I hit my stride and found a love of history, political science, and writing. I have to admit, there are times I wish I could go back and thank those women who persevered with me. I wish I could express my gratitude to Mrs. Hope and Sellers whose names I still fondly recall fifty years later.

Education is the foundation of our economic and business development at the lake.  Perhaps no single issue impacts commerce more than our workforce development. The strength of our American economy hinges on our public and private school systems as well as post-secondary education and vocational training.

Recently in a Chamber meeting of Corporate CEO’s and entrepreneurs, they pointed to a lack of a skilled workforce as a challenge to their success. They stressed it is critical that we develop our talent and prepare our young people who will soon enter the workforce.

This Thursday, March 16th, the Lake Norman Chamber will have an opportunity to hear from both our current and incoming Charlotte Mecklenburg School Superintendents when we host our Education PowerLuncehon at NorthStone Country Club.  It will be an opportunity to thank Dr. Ann Clark for her service as well as welcome new School Board leader Dr. Clayton Wilcox.

The following day, Friday, March 17th, the Chamber will host a Focus Friday with our area Charter and Private Schools at the Chamber. Both events are a chance to hear how our educational leaders are developing our future employees.

This past week we have held School Career Fairs at both Pine Lake Prep (3/7) and Hough High School (3/8). It was a chance for area businesses to meet with students and help them prepare for their vocational future.

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Future Business Leaders of America – Hough High School

Joseph Addison once said, “I consider the human soul without education like marble in a quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colors and makes the surface shine.”

Looking at those handwritten notes from my teachers brought a bright smile to my face and a little tug on my conscience.  We can all mentor a student, provide a business internship, participate in a career fair, and donate to a school fundraiser. That is the responsibility we have to the future and the obligation we all have to the past.

Bill Russell

The above column appeared in The Lake Norman Citizen (March 1, 2017 page 39) as Take Time to Mentor a Mind of the Young.

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Personal, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman’s Version of Show and Tell

Mrs Hope's First Grade Class - Bill Russell, Finley Rd Elementary School

Nearly everyone has experienced “Show and Tell” whether it was when you were a student or perhaps assisting your child or niece with their homework.  When I was a youngster at Finley Road Elementary School in Rock Hill (SC),  I was asked to bring something or someone to school that week of significance to me to share with the rest of the class.  I have never been accused of being overly humble, even as a child, and I decided the best person to bring to show off – was me!

As the first-born child, my mother Sarah took great pains to detail every significant event of my childhood.  My baby book was filled with photos, captions detailing the event, locks of hair, and special cards and mementoes.  I can still recall taking the baby book down from the shelf and stripping many of the photos from the album and creating my own “Show and Tell” project.

That week I shared with my classmates the most significant moments of my life displaying the photos my mother worked so hard to compile.  Not satisfied with mom’s captions, I created new explanations for each photo, with my own creative and adventurous story.

Much to my mother’s chagrin, those photos never made their way back to where they belonged, perhaps strewn across the playground some 45 years ago.  Needless to say, she wasn’t at all happy with me about that.  

Bill Russell and Pat Golden, 2011 LKN Business Expo

On Monday, March the 5th, more than 160 of our Chamber members have the opportunity to “Show and Tell” at the largest business trade show in the Charlotte market.  Our Lake Norman Business Expo is designed for businesses to tell their unique stories and showcase their business.  If you are an exhibitor, no other venue can give you greater exposure and opportunity than the Expo.  If you are not an exhibitor, please come out and see Business at its Best and support the lake’s retail and service businesses.

By the way, my mother has always had the last word on the “Show and Tell” incident.  At significant family gatherings, mom has reminded my brother and sister why their baby book was not as detailed as theirs.  “It is because how bad your older brother was as a child.  You have Billy to blame,” mom constantly reminds them on this and many other countless examples.

I always respond that I was just breaking her in good for my future siblings.  While my exercise was not what my teacher had in mind, the Lake Norman Business Expo is our business communities’ moment to shine. I encourage everyone to participate – sharing the event through your social media and word of mouth and I’ll see you at the Expo!

For more information Visit the LKN Business Expo website or call the LKN Chamber at 704-892-1922.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The many labels we choose to wear

Mama and me showing off our swimwear in 1967 - I'm the one with the slight attitude

Labels – we wear them with pride, use them to identify who we are, and sometimes hide behind them when times get tough.  But do they really tell the story about who we are or do they separate us from one another?  When I was a child my mother went grocery shopping and came home with a surprise she said I would love.  I was a third grader at Finley Road Elementary in Rock Hill.  Mom had purchased me a new notebook with a Minnesota Vikings Football helmet on the cover.  The only problem I was a die hard Green Bay Packers fan and Minnesota was and still is their biggest rival.  Distraught was not the word for it as I tried to convey how I couldn’t possibly carry that to class.

Not long after that, the big rage in school was black high top Converse tennis shoes.  I begged and begged for a pair and one afternoon mom came home with a present.  It was a pair of tennis shoes she had purchased from Family Dollar.  They were black…and they were high tops and that’s about the end of the similarity.  They had tread like a tire, a cloth emblem on the ankle where the Converse logo would appear, and the kids on the bus referred to them as my “moon boots.”  I was crushed.

Years later, in Junior High School, all the kids at Rawlinson Road were wearing blue jean jackets.  My mother went shopping and she came home with a present – a red blue jean jacket.  I think I was the only kid in school with a denim jacket that was red.  She said that made me “special.”  Now, more than thirty years later, she was right.  Actually it was mom herself who was really special!

Bill Russell & Sarah (MOM) last fall

Looking back, I know my mama loved me (still does!) with all her heart and back in those days it was all she could do to take care of us kids on the salary that dad brought home.  Dad was never one to spend money he didn’t have and so mom never charged anything.  She bought what we could afford.  One thing was for certain – we weren’t going to buy anything just because of the label.    The package wasn’t important, it was the present inside and the thought that counted.

But labels don’t just stop with products that we buy.  We label ourselves.  I’m a Republican.  Not just a Republican but a Conservative Republican.  Heck, I’m a Reagan Republican.  I am proud to admit to being a Christian, a protestant at that – Presbyterian.  Is that Presbyterian Church of America or USA ?  Mine is USA.

Perhaps the labels I struggle with the most are church labels.  I have a really difficult time believing  if we all make it to Heaven, St. Peter is going to form a line for Baptist, one for Methodist, and another for Catholics.  I cannot imagine Peter’s going to say, “Hey you Catholics, park it here, Associate Reformed Presbyterians, I’m not real sure what we’re going to do with you, and Latter Days Saints, you guys wait outside.  Oh, and is there an Ernest Angley here?  Gabriel down the hall is looking for you buddy!”

I love watching reruns of Billy Graham’s Crusades and went to one myself when he was here in Charlotte.  I can still remember Billy talking about how you can enter the gates of Heaven through Christ.  But does that mean someone who lives a wonderful life, who gives of themselves to those less fortunate, and who believes in a creator who makes all things possible – but does not subscribe to a Christian faith or in the God we all consider as our Holy Father – is their soul doomed?

As a Christian I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.  But I wonder if we took all the wealth of the church – all the paintings, statues, trappings, and acted on the words of Jesus himself when he said, “to give up our worldly belongings and follow me.”  If the Catholic Church sold all of that and still placed it in public hands so all the world could still enjoy its beauty and took that money and spent it on the poor and downtrodden, those who suffer from disease or malnourishment, would that not be a better use of those resources?

Bethesda Presbyterian Church - McConnells, SC

Sometimes I think the Good Lord is looking down wondering how we could take something so simple and make it so difficult.  I suppose I’m the very last person who has an answer when it comes to theology.  But after half a century on this earth I figure at the end of the day we’re going to be judged on whether we lived a good life, left this old world better than we found it, and believed in a force greater than ourselves.  I believe that force to be God, who sent his son to die for my sins.

And that’s a label I’m proud to wear.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Bethesda Presbyterian Church History | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Show and Tell Time for Lake Norman

Bill Russell, Future LKN Chamber Exec

Nearly everyone has experienced “Show and Tell,” whether a student yourself or assisting your child with their project.  When I was in first grade at Finley Road Elementary School in Rock Hill (SC), I was asked to bring something or someone to school of significance to me to share with the class. As a precocious little tike, I decided to bring “myself.”  Since I was the first-born child, my mother took great pains to detail every significant event of my childhood.  My baby book was filled with photos and captions detailing the particular moment.  I can still recall taking the baby book down from the shelf and stripping many of the photos from the album and creating my own little project.

The next morning I shared with my classmates the most significant something or someone to me – “me”!  Not satisfied with my mother’s captions, I created a new explanation for each photo, each with their own creative and adventurous story.  Much to my mother’s chagrin, those photos never made their way back to its original display, perhaps strewn across some playground somewhere.  Needless to say she was never happy about that.

Lake Norman Business Expo

This month more than 130 of our Chamber members have the opportunity to “show and tell” at one of the largest trade shows for business in the Charlotte region – the Lake Norman Business Expo.  This show is designed for businesses to tell their story and showcase their business.  If you are an exhibitor, no other venue can give you better exposure and opportunity than the Expo.  If you are not an exhibitor, please come out and see Business at it’s Best and support the lake’s retail and service businesses.  It will be held Thursday, May 13th at CPCC - North Campus in Huntersville (11930 Verhoeff Drive) 10 am until 5 pm.

By the way, my mother has always had the last word on the “show and tell” incident.  At significant annual gatherings of my family, Mom has always reminded my brother and sister of the reason their baby book is not quite as detailed as it could have been.  “The reason is because of the antics of your older brother.  You have Billy to blame,” Mom reminds them on this and many other things.  I always respond that I was just breaking her in good so that anything they did in the future wouldn’t look so bad in comparison.   While my little exercise was perhaps not what my teacher had in mind, the Expo is our business community’s moment to shine.   
I encourage everyone to make the most of this opportunity to share and network with the best in business.  Email, Face Book, LinkedIn, and Twitter all your friends, clients, and customers to see the Best in Business… and I’ll see you at the Expo!

For more information visit 

www.lakenormanexpo.com

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , | Leave a comment