Parent makes West Point teacher 'cry'

Undreake Lane, School Resource Officer Tara Sloan and teacher Haley McGarity watch students enjoy their surprise.
Staff Writer

A parent made a West Point teacher cry Thursday afternoon ... big tears of joy.

Undreake Lane and his oldest daughter, Undrica, showed up at Haley McGarity and Alison Reed's first grade class at Church Hill Elementary armed with cupcakes, Teddy bears, Hot Wheels cars and other goodies for the boys and girls.

And it was all just to say, "Thank you."

"The teacher is very awesome, that's all I can say. Almost all these kids are on the honor roll and they all try so hard. I just wanted to tell the teachers and the kids how proud we are of them," Undreake said.
His other daughter, Dreyuna Lane, is in the class so he knows first-hand of the work McGarity and Reed, and their teacher assistants Angie Wooten and Syndy Andrews, do.

Church Hill Principal Cindy Donahoo was even more poignant addressing the class before they waded into their gifts and goodies.

"I get calls all the time from parents who want to complain about a kid being mean to another kid or something like that. But (Lane) called and said this class was accepting of everyone, tall or short, whether they walk or hop. Y'all truly love one another," she said.

"God made us all the same," chimed in one of the students.

"That's right," Donahoo replied. "You are all truly friends and family."

McGarity was touched. And for her, the class has made it easy.

"This is the sweetest class I've had in awhile," said the 10-year veteran, who taught in Meridian and then algebra I at West Point High for two years before moving into her current classroom seven years ago.

"This just makes me want to cry. It touches my heart that they noticed," she said. "It's nice to be noticed for something good.

"We say it everyday, that we love each other like brothers and sisters. This is our family when we are at school. They've taken it and embraced it," she said of the more than two dozen students who, despite the cuddly bears and sugar rush, remained relatively calm all things considered.

Some even shared hugs as the gifts were being handed out, and they ended with a big, "Thank you!" to the Lanes.

Lane said he hopes his gesture inspires other parents. School resource officer Tara Sloan, who broke away from her regular school to be a part of the Church Hill celebration, agreed.

"You can see and feel the difference," she stated, noting that Lane and some of his friends frequently chip in at Christmas and the start-of-school to help less-fortunate kids with gifts, school supplies and other needs.

"When the parents get involved, everyone is better...and everyone is happy," Sloan continued.

"Absolutely," Lane echoed.

Is he worried about setting his youngest daughter's expectations to high?

"Every time this class celebrates an honor roll, I'll be here to celebrate with them," he said.