As I watch my daughter Annais Margot Gangolf cross the stage in a crowded gym at her Middle School, I am overwhelmed with emotion. I am overcome with pride and joy as her eyes find me in the crowd and she gives me a smile that is private and meant just for me. She has been very successful thus far in her 14 year old life. On entering middle school she made some goals for herself and she has achieved all of them plus. She received straight A’s for all 4 years, she made it onto the National Honor Society and became president, she was chosen to be on the Yearbook and became Editor in Chief, she helped plan the talent show, had a solo and sang the finale, she was on the band all 4 years and started her own band, she was awarded the American Legion Award for Leadership and the President’s Volunteer Service Award and she sang the Star Spangled Banner at Graduation. Besides her obvious successes, she is a kind, sweet and gentle person. But she did not get to this place herself. It has been the village of women that Annais has been surrounded by from the very beginning that has made the difference in her life.
Mrs. Gunkel, Robin Max Gunkel let Annais follow her passion for singing and allowed Annais to shine in the Arbor Park Talent Show. She let Annais help with the theme of the show and taught her about commitment to a project. She guided Annais through her nervousness about performing and with praise and encouragement Annais gained confidence. When Annais took center stage, Mrs. Gunkel was right there cheering her on.
Mrs. Nix, Jane Nix has taught Annais about friendship and comradery. She let Annais and her yearbook friends eat lunch with her everyday in the Art room. This led to many interesting conversations about anything and everything and led Annais to a new group of friends and interest in so many new ideas. She guided Annais in laying out the yearbook and listened when Annais had ideas about the theme of the book. She taught her about the important of creativity and going beyond limitations. She named Annais the editor in chief of the Yearbook Staff and has been one of Annais’ biggest supporters.
Miss Falls, Becky Lynn has been the band director and has helped Annais with her band called Beethoven’s Army. She gave her time and her talent to teach and guide her music and to push past barriers to achieve success. She helped Annais wherever she could and was always there with the solution to problems. She saw Annais as an individual not just a 14 year old girl and treated her with respect and listened to Annais’ ideas. And when she joined the group at Oberweis for an after concert ice cream cone, I could see why Annais considered her one of her favorites.
Mrs. Sexton has been Annais’s principal for the past 4 years and has been so important to Annais’s success. She has recognized Annais’s drive and commitment. She has listened to Annais’s ideas and helped her wherever she could. She has always been so kind and generous. She is someone that will have a lasting effect on her. Mrs. Sexton instilled in her that hard work will be rewarded and recognized.
Melanie Gangolf is a quirky mother of 3 who lives outside of Chicago. She loves to write, cuss and preach about the good ole days. You can find her on facebook and in line at the local grocery store.
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