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TOP�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� him at the Red Ribbon Week school assembly. ABOVE James celebrates the surprise with family and friends. At the end of the day, it was finally time for the assembly. “I walked in the gym and saw my sister Nancy Palmer, and my brother-in-law Frank Ed Palmer, my neighbor Lisa Adams, and my good friend Darren McClellan.” In the middle of the gym floor, was the “Ladder to Success” with inspiring words on posters taped to the rungs. Fumbling for an excuse to explain their presence at the school, Lisa spouted off, “Nancy and I are working together on an assembly, and we wanted to see this one to get ideas.” The excuse fell flat, and after James walked away Lisa and Nancy knew James had to be suspicious. Nerds filled the gym bleachers with the energy of hundreds of kids thrilled to be out of class. The Chickfil A cow was even there, parading around at the whims of the students. Supportive parents and members of the community watched as Cindy Corbitt, in her giant hair bow and drastically over-sized glasses, introduced a special guest— City Manager Bill Torrance, who had a plaque in hand. James was surprised when he was asked to come accept an award. Bill announced Mayor Ronnie Dixon had officially declared October 27th, “James Lowe Nerd Day” for the city of Vidalia. James graciously accepted the commemorative plaque, and after his acceptance speech, James found a selfie stick placed in his hand. Cindy Corbitt had him practice for this exact moment. It was all making sense now. Excited nerds took to the gym floor, surrounding James, and bustling to get into the selfie. “There was no way I couldn’t have known about this surprise, but I didn’t,” James said. “My sister still had to point things out like they brought the Chick-fil-A cow because I go there for breakfast every morning. The whole Nerd Day thing blew me away. I was stunned,” James said. In his final days as a teacher considering what’s next, James says, “I have felt God just calm me down and say, ‘Let’s just pray about this and take some time.’” James has spent years devoted to teaching his students, but his love for people has always stretched beyond the classroom. Through coaching sports, volunteering and teaching at the Paul Anderson Youth Home, visiting at the Bethany Home, or helping with the youth at First Methodist, James’s honesty and ability to work hard has blessed people of all ages. “There is a verse in the Bible, ‘Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed’” (Proverbs 11:25), James said. “And that’s true. I try to live by that. When I’m with the youth or kids at school, I do feel younger, and I feel like there’s a purpose for me.” When James officially retires, he can enjoy knowing he has lived his career dream, and he can now pursue other dreams. “When I grow up,” James said, “I want to be a Christian radio disc jockey.” With his other goal of learning to play the guitar, James can be sure music will play a big part in his next stage of life. “I feel like it’s a new lease on life—a clean slate.” After the gym bleachers were emptied, and the nerds filed back to the classroom, James took his Nerd Day plaque to his room and proudly hung it on his wall. Cindy Corbitt had given James a balloon to commemorate the occasion. “That balloon still has helium from Nerd Day October 27th,” James says. “I think that balloon is gonna keep until May 26th, the day I leave.” ��TCM 64 Toombs County Magazine


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