Letters From Leton: I Think I Can! I Think I Can!

As children we all read the story of “The Little Engine That Could.”

The story is used to teach children values of optimism, perseverance and hard work.

Perhaps you have also read the book to your own children or youngsters and continued the passage to them of a can-do message!

The last Friday in August, I participated in a ceremony at UVA-Wise naming the foyer area for the new library complex after Dr. Miriam DeLois Morris Fuller, the first African American to attend UVA-Wise (CVC then) in 1960.

Dr. Fuller was a teacher at Bland School, the African American school in Big Stone Gap, VA (schools then were segregated). She had volunteered to teach typing. However, she needed more training for teaching this class, so she travelled to a place that offered training – CVC in Wise, VA.

Now, Dr. Fuller could have thought twice about going “up the hill to Wise” to a school that had never admitted black students, but she did not hesitate. Instead she thought more of what needed to be done to teach her students to the best of her ability. She took action, and the rest is history.

During the session honoring Dr. Fuller, Reverend Sandra L. Jones, a student of Dr. Fuller’s at Bland School and a retiree of UVA-Wise, shared the powerful message of “I think I can, I think I can,” – the story of the Little Engine.

The entire presentation was a positive and uplifting reminder of the values that made this country great in spite of adversity.

So, when you are faced with issues in the coming days, weeks, months and beyond, be reminded of the Little Engine That Could – A reminder that our journey through life should be driven by doing what is needed and right.

– Leton

PS: Below is an excerpt of a poem by Edgar Albert Guest entitled, “Myself,” that I read at the event and is a favorite of Dr. Fuller’s, as shared with her by her mother.

“I have to live with myself and so; 

I want to be fit for myself to know.

I want to be able as days go by, 

always to look myself straight in the eye;

I don’t want to stand with the setting sun; 

and hate myself for the things I have done.

I never can hide myself from me. 

I see what others may never see; 

I know what others may never know, 

I never can fool myself and so;

whatever happens I want to be, 

self-respecting and conscience free.”

“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.