University of the District of Columbia quad
credit: Matthew G. Bisanz / Wikipedia Commons

I first met Dr. George Rutherford in 1993 when he was the principal of Fletcher Johnson Educational Center. In the 1990s he had high blood pressure and started to meditate at the suggestion of his heart doctor. The experience changed him in such a positive way that teachers at his school asked him, “What is going on?”

“TM,” he would reply.

The teachers told him right then that they wanted to learn more and Dr. Rutherford arranged for his teachers to learn about transcendental meditation.

I worked under Dr. Rutherford’s leadership from 1993 to 1999 as an educational aide at Fletcher Johnson Education Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Rutherford retired from Fletcher Johnson years later, then came out of retirement to help start a school in Baltimore. There, he fell in love with teaching children. And once the school was on solid footing, he stepped down from his position and came back to Washington D.C. in 2010 to run Ideal Academy School.

At this point, quiet time had been written into the curriculum of charter schools in Washington, D.C. and Dr. Rutherford was instrumental in arranging for his teachers and students at Ideal Academy to incorporate quiet time.

He is a man of great integrity. He would always say to me, “Keep on learning, Ms. White.”

I wanted to make a difference with my life’s chosen path. With that in mind, I stayed in the school system for many years, learning everything I could. I would teach other children and learned I had made the right decision.

I returned to school in 2005 and got my high school diploma. Dr. Rutherford’s wisdom opened doors for many students as well as their parents, not just me. He would always tell these parents they were welcome at any time because this is their children’s school.

As my boss and as a leader, he gave me the opportunity to express my ideas and implement my plan for further education. I had the honor of getting an award from the mayor and many others while working at the Fletcher Johnson Educational Center. This is how I got started in the Parent-Partnership Program. Consequently, more doors opened for me.

In the 1990’s I started taking care of children besides my own. My husband would say to me “Whose child are you bringing home now?” We took in any children that need help. I became a foster parent to children in need.

Once my children got older, I started pursuing my own career. I went back to school at Wider Opportunity for Women in Washington, DC.

My next adventure will be at the University of the District of Columbia, studying communication. I am 55 years old and when I graduate from UDC I will be 57.

I would tell anybody who asks me that you are never too old to learn, so go back to school. And don’t forget – we learn new things everyday of our lives we just don’t realize it.

When I walk across a stage at graduation, I will be tilting my cap to a great man – Dr. George Rutherford.