Our “Hometown Hero” series in Dual Credit English wound to a close this week at Aurora High School.
I’m not sure if it was the fact that it was a Monday.
It could have been that students are a little stressed over finals.
Or, maybe—some realized that these are the last holidays they will celebrate with their families without being labeled as an adult.
Home will always be where your heart is, but the fact of the matter remains that family dynamics change when you get a job in the real world or head off to college.
Rob Fulp, a 1975 graduate of Aurora High School, certainly had my students thinking.
Some laughed. A few cried. Most talked. And,…a few times the silence in the room was utterly deafening as they took his words to heart.
Known to most of Aurora as “Robbie,” I ran into him a few weeks ago at a concert on the Drury campus. I told him that his pal, Brian Fogle, was scheduled for a visit, and he agreed to work it into his schedule, as well.
He started out working at the Aurora Bank as a teller when he was in high school. He also had his own hay crew, lots of friends and some athletic abilities under his belt.
Today, he has several decades of being a bank president under his belt and recently accepted a position as chairman and chief executive officer of Springfield First Community Bank. He has served as finance chairman for Cox Hospitals and has been active on the board of directors with the Springfield Chamber of Commerce.
He is vice chairman of the Springfield National Airport and is also the chair of the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks. He is on the executive board of the Missouri State University Foundation and has given the commencement address there in the past. He is also scheduled to give commencement address at MSU again next year.
Despite his busy lifestyle and responsibilities, his stories, memories and values stem from a place not too far down the road from Springfield, where he now makes his home. His heart, he said, will always be in Aurora.
“You won’t truly understand what it means to be from here and to be a Houn’ Dawg until you leave,” he explained.
His advice for the seniors is good advice for all of us:
1. Don’t get in a hurry to get married.
2. Don’t give up your dreams when you are young for a girl or a boy.
3. Titles are not that important. It takes everyone to keep things running smoothly.
4. Everyone is equal.
5. Don’t take shortcuts. It will cost you later.
6. Don’t procrastinate.
7. Cultivate a strong work ethic.
8. Follow your passions.
9. Get focused.
10. Get past your deficiencies.
11. Don’t let your mistakes define you.
12. Never pass up a challenge.
13. Go off the ledge—take chances. What have you got to lose?
14. Remember who you are and that you will always be a Houn’ Dawg.
15. Listen to those who have “been there.”
Students opened up to Robbie, in exactly the same way they opened up to Brian Fogle a few weeks ago. His candor, humility and ability to identify with them hung in the air of my room. He asked them their names and what they were interested in doing upon graduation. At the end of the hour, he took a quick tour with two of the students and volunteered to stay for the afternoon pep assembly in the gymnasium.
“This is a fantastic facility. These are good kids. This is still a good school and a great community,” he said to me in the gymnasium, right before we helped judge the spirit competition.
I’m glad these “Hometown Heroes” took the time to visit my classes this fall. I like the ideas of following your passion and not letting mistakes define you. I also got goosebumps when he talked about never passing up a challenge.
(Kim McCully-Mobley is a local educator, historian and storyteller with a passion for Houn’ Dawgs, Hometown heroes and being proud of where you live, who you are and where you’ve been.)