Stories of Lives Changed
†ďA Righteous WalkĒ† -† Keith and Tracy
ďWhen God created us, He created us to fulfill many things.Ē
Tracy:† ††††††††††††††††††††† And we were not making it any better for ourselves because we were, you know, stereotyped, we allowed for ourselves to be stereotyped.† We had fallen into all the stereotypes, Iím telliní you we been there done that, Iím serious.† Iím a leave it there with yaíll.†
Keith:†††††††††††† ††††††††††† We allowed society to cut us down.†
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† Yeah, we were being beat down and our children were suffering from it.†
Keith:† ††††††††††† Yeah.
Tracy:†††††††††††††††††††††† And so uh, from the moment we got together we had dreams.† And we begin to talk about the dreams and aspirations we had for our lives if we had not took the routes that we had taken and the things that we would like for our children to experience or have the opportunity to obtain, you know, and, we tried working we tried this we tried, but it didnít work, and we had to go back to were we had left off at and that was before we had even had children.† And that was education.
Keith:† ††††††††††††††††††††† Exactly.† We couldnít make that step forward until we went back to were we left off at and thatís quitting high school.†
Tracy:††††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† I mean if we really wanted to do these things that we wanted
to achieve we had to go back, I mean the time or the process of how long it would take, that wasnít an option because the children were more important.† I was working a job um, working at a factory were we produced crutches we would assemble crutches.† I was an assembler.† And I was making like, assembling like eight hundred sets of crutches a day and sometimes I worked anywhere from like ten to twelve hours a day.† And I mean it would be like eight sets so I had to assembling actually sixteen hundred sets of crutches a day.† And my check at the end of the week would precede just maybe a little below or a little over two hundred dollars.† And, I would be so tired until my housework was behind, the children was always needing something, and my husband was over working himself on the road.† He took a roofing job and a part-time job.† He would work on the side doing anything to help make ends met, and he stopped and said I just canít do this anymore.† He said, we went into the system and got assistance.†
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† The government, what they call it The Department of Human, well no, uh Families First came to us and said look we have a program now you just canít lay around on welfare all your life.† You have to go to school or get a job in the workforce that we choose for you all to be able to continue to get these welfare assistance, so I decided we were gonna go to school because we didnít wanna go back to the roofs or back into these warehouses or wherever.† She opposed to go to school.† She really didnít wanna go back to school from the beginning.
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† That because um, years ago when I tried to go to school and needed help from the system it was very little help at the time.† And so, you know, you can knock up against the wall until you say well I give up.† And so my drive for that was gone at that particular time, but my husband he took the initiative and he proceeded with the GED course and he came back and he was coming back excited and it was like, you know, education like shines a light on things and his eyes were bright and he was telling me the things that he was learning, and it wasnít like he was going to school for the system at this time, he was really enjoying it.† And, I mean, he was catching up with things that he had stopped off, at the things that stopped him from proceeding, the hindering thing, he was proceeding with it so he could move forward.† And so as he went he said well why donít you come and when I got there I was excited as well.
Carl† was our GED instructor over at St. Andrewís, and I mean, he was great.† He let us know that we can benefit from the system.† Donít just let, I mean itís not too many people that go through that section of the GED course taught up under him without having a little bit more that just receiving, you know, skills for a GED.† You know, because he pushed us on to go to college.† He said donít stop here, cause this is going to help you.† Benefit from it.† Donít just lay around.† Donít just come here because you were told to come here, you know.† Really get into it and see how it can help you and your children, how it can affects you in your life situation.† He was right.
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† It was not about laying up on welfare all the time and receive food stamps, and government assistance all the way around, but right now it is helping us, now we can feed our children, we can have them in daycare centers and itís helping us move forward in life.†
Tracy:† ††††††††††† Yeah.
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† When I went to school I realized I loved it.† I learned to write a sentence again, Iím doing paragraphs now, I know how to do Algebra, and I can read the newspaper with better comprehension.† I have really grown.† God has given me another chance to grow and do what is right.
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† Because uh, education is Godís idea, you know, for a sinning world, for the lack of knowledge my people are destroyed or I may be paraphrasing it, and, you know, when it really set in for me is when we walked down the aisle when we graduated with our GED and I knew yes we got past this, you know completion of something.†
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† I congratulated her.† She passed those GED scores with; her scores were higher than mine.† You know, in the three months she learned more than my six months. †
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† And see I had dropped out in eighth grade.† I had only an eighth grade education.†
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† At least I quit in the eleventh.† And so I just said look how come you have more sense than I do?
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† No, I was just excited.† I was hungry, we were both hungry, but I had, I was breathing down his neck because I know he knew more than me so I was breathing down his neck.†
Keith:†††††††††††† ††††††††††† She thought I knew more than she did.†
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† And so itís like a competition, itís competitive, you know, with our education, I mean in a righteous way.
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† After we did that we just gained more confidence about moving to a higher level.† And we thought through going to college would be that way.† After we received (?) we said well we are gonna have to attend college.† Itís gonna be fun.
Tracy:†††††††††††††††††††††† And once we accepted education it was like righteousness in a right way, a righteous walk was, I mean, with us it could be better.
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† You know and with us having eight kids, you know, it opened new doors, and created new, create confidence with my kids for their parents.† Thatís called discipline you know.† Our kids was likeÖ
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† They were growing up to be like us.† And so we had to do these, we found that we had to do these things in order to create new life with our kids.† And now they are on the same page we are on.† My daughter continuously says she canít wait to graduates high school and go to college, I mean itís great to hear and our older boys when we first got together they didnít wanna go to school I mean they didnít care about going to school because thatís the way we were, but once we changed that scenario and begin-
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† Öcertain mentalities were broken. †And all of them, their grades are rising and rising and rising, and I mean theyíre coming along, theyíre doing things, I mean theyíre ambitious, I mean itís really helping them.† They are taking education serious.† We have been groomed for education of the world, we have been groomed, and we have learned since we been here that education is a privilege.† Itís a discipline and a privilege.† And you know Iím just honored to be receiving the type of education that we are receiving, especially here at LeMoyne-Owen cause Iím a tell you since we have been here we have had a hundred and ten things stop us from coming to school, but you know something, we over rode it, it was like
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† It was like weíll deal with this later.† Say look weíll deal with this after classes today yaíll.
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† And you know something, God worked it out, cause if you do what it is that God asks you to do, He will work it out.† You take care of His business; Heíll take care of yours.
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† In my younger days I was hard headed when I went to school and I ended up dropping out and I paid dearly for that, and so I feel I can give something back within the educational field of teaching, not just what the Tennessee Education Department require me to teach, but also how it applies to real life affairs, I mean how important it is for education so.
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† In three or four years I can see myself in a classroom, particularly elementary classrooms teaching uh, children at the same time probably doing night classes uh, studying for my Masters.† You know, itís always another level, another goal, I mean when God created us, He created us to fulfill many things.† I mean, only He know if we just make the right steps, you know, donít ever stop, you know keep knocking at the door and if it donít open then it must not be for you, but donít stop knocking, go to another door.† You know, set more goals, and I wanna teach my children to do the same.† Because of the fact that we have eight children, I think that each and every one of them can be prosperous in life.†
Keith:†††††††††††††††††††††††† Because if it had not been for Families First where would I be at?† I wouldnít have been in school.† I would be down the road of destruction.† I be in a world of trouble probably right about now.
Tracy:††††††††††††††††††††††† Or just another stereotype, you know.† Just another stereotype, you know, waiting on my check or waiting for ends to met, or just in a cycle of just anything of incompletion, you know, in my life just over and over again, just nothing proceeding beyond a cycle, you know, tradition.† And you know, now since Iím here I feel like that tradition has been broken and with education I can be anything I wanna be, and now my children donít have to be caught up in the cycle.
Our Children benefiting from our education, but I mean, we benefit as well, but just to see the Parison household being just a role model as far as school is concerned, they know that even us being as old as we are, we must be doing- must be something worth while and it must be something worth walking in, you know.