Author: Marshall Harrison, Superintendent, Sunray ISD
The journey of life is filled with valleys, which prove to be the classroom to prepare us for the battles we will face. On August 29, 2014 at 2:58 p.m. I watched as my wife of nearly 24 years take her last breath and pass into the arms of our Heavenly Father. At 44 years of age the wife, the mother and the teacher was instantly cancer free and delivered from a world that developed her into a solider of Christ. As I walked out to my pickup and settled in for the drive back home, I sat in silence and reflected on the last 18 months and how I had walked away from the school business to take care of her. Now 18 months later I had to determine the next steps and find a way to not only make a living, but also be a single parent with three children. I knew at that point I had to get back into the school business.
In the eight years following her death, my son has graduated from TAMU and operates a 10,000 acre ranch in central Kansas, my oldest daughter will be graduating from TAMU in May going to work in Southlake and my youngest who is actively involved in all activities at school will be the first class in Sunray to be fully immersed in the P-20 Model. I have by the grace of God continued to raise my children as a single working Dad. The unexpected personal and professional journey is truly a grace and faith filled journey.
In 2017 I accepted and moved to Sunray to be their Superintendent. The morning after I interviewed the Board President told me that they believed God placed me into their school system for a pathway to break the ‘dark cloud’ over their school. In August, 2019 I was exposed to the P-20 model and at that point every aspect of my professional and personal life came together. Growing up in poverty, being a first generation college graduate and my career as an Ag Teacher brought to light that my heart and soul is working with children of poverty and minority children, while at the same time leveling the ‘playing field’ for all children no matter their background.
In August, 2019 we changed our bond election from an athletic facility bond, to a CTE facility bond to allow us to fully implement the P-20 model. On a cold night in November, 2019 at around midnight the vote came in and our bond passed by ‘1’ vote. Leaning on the belief that God’s will was for us to implement this model, we moved forward with issuing bonds and the implementation of the P-20 model.
The full implementation of the P-20 brings, many challenges with every decision being grounded in the cornerstone of faith. Once God determines the will of anyone person or organization, Heaven and Earth will be parted to fulfill His will. I could list several pages of the daily challenges we have had implementing the model, but I also could list beside each challenge how God provided a solution and blessed the challenge with positive human capital outcomes.
My overlaying point is that throughout all of our lives true risk develops deeper faith. Each of us will be challenged to revert back to a status ‘quo’ of educating children, due to challenges that will come. Every part of my life has been preparing for the hill to either die on or raise the flag of success upon.
We must each day grab ahold of the fact that each of our lives will be remembered by the impact we make on people we will never meet. My life is grounded in my faith and through the will of God I will steward my district, my community and my family in a direction that will raise a flag on a hill to the glory of the God that will outshine for generations to come with changed lives in my district, my community and my family.
Another inspiring message from an outstanding servant leader, father, educator, and man of faith! Dr. Harrison, you inspire us all that, indeed, we CAN make a difference in the lives of those whom we serve.