Many life experiences feature rites of passage that help a group transition from one phase to the next. These rites aren’t always pleasant, but they are essential for training us for the next stage in life. Most of us enjoy driving, but few relish days spent in driver’s training. High school football was fun, but summer’s two-a-days were not. Our affection for our first paycheck surpassed our love for the first Monday we awoke to the blare of an early alarm. We endure the rites because they put us into position to flourish during our experiences.
The memory of many students of the Harding School of Theology is etched with the red ink of one common rite of passage: the 5990 Advanced Theological Research course. The iconic Annie May Lewis served as the chief architect of the class, but since 1983 it has been the craft of her prized-mentee, Don Meredith.
Last week, head librarian Don Meredith received the Teacher Achievement Award from Harding University. The award, no doubt, honored his time spent teaching the class, which he has offered nearly every semester since 1983. But it also honored the way that he has used the class as a rite of passage into the rest of the program. When students reflect about their time at HST, they often share stories of their term papers from that first class, which are still wet with red ink from Meredith’s famous multi-colored pen. Like the soldiers who fought with Henry V on St. Crispin’s Day, survivors of 5990 can count themselves the “few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”
This band of brothers and sisters thanks you, Mr. Meredith, for giving us the tools we needed to become the students we wanted to be.