My first days in Waco brought to mind Garrison Keillor’s introduction to his weekly radio story. “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”
I know Keillor had his tongue firmly implanted in cheek, but he could have been truthfully referring to the women of Waco. When it comes to Waco women, strong leaders are easy to find.
This is not to negate the good qualities of Waco men. Shoot, we’ve got a mayor that I would put against any mayor in the country. But this is about our women.
I’m not going to name names, but a woman is leading that little school on the east side of I-35. Then there’s the head of the public health district. We’ve got two women leading two of our strongest foundations. Then there’s the woman who is in the middle of everything communicated in this town via the Internet. There’s a woman city council member who brings expertise, heart, and soul to meetings. I’ve tuned in online to hear a woman pastor who keeps many of us grounded in faith. A business-owning woman is a former mayor and is still active in city leadership. A woman leads our community-wide fundraising effort. Can’t forget the leaders of a local mental health facility and a substance abuse center. And, of course, my own boss is one of those leading ladies.
There are many other women providing leadership in our medical facilities, educational institutions, city government, real estate, and businesses. And, there are countless women leading their families (sometimes with a manly assist), and that is an especially important role in our stay-at-home times.
I have met all of the leaders referenced above and encountered women who fit into the next category in my short two months of working in Waco and one week of living here.
Back to Keillor’s intro, I don’t know about the handsomeness of Waco men, but the last phrase about above average children is an exercise in wishful thinking. Average is what it is, and it applies to all sorts of things. Each of us is average in some ways, and below and above average in others. But it’s also true that we can move up from being below average at many things.
One reason you get great leadership from boardroom to living room is because you stress quality education — from start to finish. Education is not just about book smarts; it’s about learning, and that takes many forms.
When I was in high school in Dallas ages ago, I took “distributive education” my senior year. I learned how the marketplace works, and I left school at lunch to work at a regular job — Sears, Roebuck & Co. The academic track eluded me. No one who knew me then, including me, speculated I would someday wear a hooded graduation gown.
Primary and secondary schools prepare us for all kinds of roles in life, and colleges and technical schools help students hone their skills in more specific ways. All of it is education, all of it is important, and all of it can be had right here in Waco.
Garrison Keillor was asked where the name, “Lake Wobegon,” came from. Keillor said the name had Native American roots meaning “the place where we waited all day in the rain [for you].”
I love that. The name, Waco, has a Native American lineage as well, and it gives me a very warm feeling thinking Waco can be a place where we wait all day in the rain for each other.
And to borrow the closing line from Lake Wobegon, “Well, that’s the news from Waco, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”
This post originally appeared on the Act Locally Waco website.
Copyright © 2020 Ferrell Foster