Neighbor: Michelle Nation
By: Melanie Ruberti
LaGRANGE – The Daily News’ weekly Neighbors series features one person from LaGrange and the surrounding area. This week we sought out Michelle Nation, the graduation coach at Callaway High School. Michelle preps teens for life after high school and helps them take the necessary steps to achieve their dreams.
LaGrange Daily News: How long have you lived in LaGrange / Troup County?
Michelle Nation: “My family moved to LaGrange from Columbus in 1982. My dad worked for Southern Bell and his work brought us here. I started sixth grade that year at Troup Junior High School.”
LDN: Where did you attend high school and college?
Nation: “When I went to high school, Troup County had four school systems: Troup County, LaGrange City, West Point City, and Hogansville City. Because my parents lived in the county, my sister and I attended Troup High. I began Troup High when it was located on Whitesville Road. While I was in high school, West Point City and Troup County built a comprehensive high school – the one that is now located on Hamilton Road …
“I was a non-traditional student. I worked during the day at Mansour’s Inc., and attended school at night. I earned an Associate degree from Southern Union State Community College in general studies. I went on to earn my Bachelor’s degree in special education … 12 years later I went back to school and earned my Master’s in curriculum and instruction from LaGrange College. I then added an educational leadership degree from the University of West Georgia. Currently, I am working on earning a doctorate from Valdosta State University.”
LDN: Tell me about your family.
Nation: “I’m married to Curt Nation. He is a Corporal with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. We have two sons: Jared is in the 9th grade at Callaway High School and Dylan is in the 6th grade at Callaway Middle School.”
LDN: What do you do for a living?
Nation: “I’ve worked for Troup County School System for the past 21 years. Currently, I’m the graduation coach at Callaway High School.
LDN: What do you like most about your job? What are some challenges you face?
Nation: “It’s hard to answer what I like most about my job because there are so many things I could list. I love working with teenagers who are full of life and enthusiasm about the future. My favorite moment every year is the graduation ceremony. There is something special about marching in to the music in front of the students who have worked for so many years to get to that special moment. I smile, I cry and I clap when I see students cross the stage. It is a moment they and their families will never forget.
“One of the challenges I face in my job is helping students get to the graduation stage … Some students have academic difficulties, some have motivational issues and some have home environment issues or health problems that present obstacles for them. Some hurdles are easier to overcome than others. We (CHS staff) often have to think creatively to help students overcome their obstacles. I’m thankful that I work with other educators, parents and members of the community members that help students reach the high school graduation milestone. I don’t want anyone to miss that opportunity.”
LDN: What other organizations, civic groups or committees are you a part of?
Nation: “When you have the privilege of working in a high school you love, much of your time is spent there. I’m also an active member of Shoal Creek Baptist Church, a member of Troup County Domestic Violence Task Force and a volunteer with the Good Sam Ministry.”
LDN: What do you like to do for fun?
Nation: “For fun, I spend time with my family and that usually involves something one or both of our sons is doing. There is something special about seeing your children present a program in church, receive an award at school or win a competition.
“I have a ‘bucket list’ of things I want to do … My son Jared jokingly says my list gets ‘longer and longer.’ He thinks I probably have five years to work on those things – that time frame is based on his ‘guesstimate’ of when I’ll probably retire and when my husband and I will probably have grandchildren. Lol.
“I also love to take pictures of my family, learn more about our family history and travel somewhere new.”
LDN: What do you like most about the community?
Nation: “I love the hometown feel of LaGrange, Georgia. It is small enough to feel like family and close enough to the beach and to the mountains. When I was in high school, my classmates and I teased each other that we couldn’t wait to get out of “Trap” County. As teenagers, we thought it (county) was too small. We didn’t see the value in what we had. I’ve never left Troup County and I’m glad I’m still here. I cannot imagine living in a bigger city. I love that my boys get to live in the same town as their grandparents.
“While Troup County is not huge in size, it is in heart. People really care about their community. I love that we come together for different causes: from fundraisers for people with cancer to supporting local law enforcement agencies.
“I’ll give you a recent, personal example of the love my family and I have experienced first-hand from our community. My father passed away last year. We were surrounded by people who cared: people brought food, called, and came over (to our house.) I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was because I’m used to it … However, my aunt, who lives out of town, remarked what an unusual blessing it (community support) was and that it doesn’t happen everywhere.”
LDN: How do you hope to positively impact your family, friends and the community around you?
Nation: “As a Christian, I hope to be a good example of the ‘salt of the earth and the light of the world.’ Both salt and light serve a purpose. There are so many opportunities to help those around us … If there is someone in need before me, I pray that God gives me the wisdom and opportunity to meet it (the need). That can be a friend who needs to cry because a parent passed away, a student who needs to eat because there is no food at home or a stranger who needs to be invited to learn more about God because there is a feeling of emptiness. I hope to use my ears, shoulders and hands to help others as much as possible in our community.”
‘Neighbors’ is a weekly series by the Daily News that highlights community members. To nominate a person to be featured call 706-884-7311 or message us on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/LaGrangeDailyNews.