April is a month of milestones for me.
On Friday, April 19, seven years to the exact day, I rolled up in Grove with my "stuff."
I left Little Rock that morning, to set out on a new adventure - one which would lead me to first manage the editorial department at The Grove Sun, and later The Delaware County Journal.
Saturday, April 20, I found myself beginning year seven by covering Sierra's Little Free Library and an Easter Egg Hunt.
That seemed fitting, since my first self-given assignment on that day in 2013 was to cover Grove High School's prom.
I still remember the event, in the former Royal Bay event center. Jared Perryman and Ellise Crawford were crowned the homecoming royalty.
It was the first of many events involving Grove students I found find myself at in those early days.
Time has a way of marching onward.
This week, I wrapped up my last issue as the adviser of The Chart at Missouri Southern.
As many may recall, I jumped into the position with both feet back in July. The Chart was the place I earned my journalism teeth. It was a place which helped make me who I am today.
This past year, I've worked with some amazing students including Victoria, my editor, Cally, my managing editor, Trey Vaughan and Mitch Carney, my sports editors/gurus, Laney Parrigon, a photographer and artsy friend; and others including staff writers/photographers Lexi Conway, Alex Berryhill, Sara Lott, Liz Chandler, Reid Davis, Valeriya Yusupova and Valeria Perez.
I've learned a lot from coaching what I affectionately called "baby journalists." No slight was intended. It helped me keep my perspective as I gave them the basics (milk) and slowly added cereal (advanced stuff) and graduated them to the meat and potatoes (hard news).
It helped to remember one must first learn to crawl before standing and eventually walking and running.
For someone who has been doing the job of a journalist for more than 20 years, it's easy to forget people don't automatically begin in at dead sprint.
Coaching students, and helping them see how stories could go from good to great has been amazing. Watching students get their first bylines takes my breath away.
On Wednesday night, Laney sat in The Chart office going through the artwork which will eventually hang in her senior show.
In addition to her own work, she's planning to showcase the images created by her students at Carl Junction High School. The drawings grew out of a lesson Laney prepped for them earlier this spring.
She was aglow as she showed us the various sketches. She joked some were too good to hang next to her example. Ultimately, she summed it up by saying she loved to see the students' work and how proud she was of their accomplishments.
I looked at Laney and said "welcome to teaching." This moment, as she sat there with a glow in her eyes, reinforced I knew she was pursuing her true calling.
It was also the moment, I sat watching her, Mitch, Cally, Victoria and Sara, work on the various pieces of the final The Chart for Spring 2019. Like Laney, I was / am tremendously proud of what my students have accomplished.
It has been an amazing year. One I will cherish for a lifetime. I'm so glad I told God yes, and stepped out in faith to take the role. I'm glad I was brave, even when I was unsure of the next step.
Saying no, while easier, would have left my life empty of the joy I've experienced this year. I'm forever grateful I said yes. It's changed my life for the good.
Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at email@example.com or 918-786-2228.