matthew hilliard tribute

Tribute to Matthew Hilliard

[callout]Difficult things happen in schools. During this past school year, my school, Westwood, has lost some family members including one of my former students from the class of 2014, Matthew Hilliard. I read this today at the annual dedication. His Mom, Rhonda, gave me permission to share it online as many of our family and friends have asked for a copy. I hope it inspires you to live a ilfe well lived. Life is too short. Enjoy the season and live it well. We also miss our teacher Mrs. Carole Powell who I also mention. I hope my wider blogging community will pay homage and respect to a young man who left us too soon. [/callout]

Our Tribute to Matthew Hilliard

There are amazing people

who are with us for a season…


Matthew knew what seasons were like and whether it was deer season or dove season, every season had a first day and a last day. That is how seasons go.


Matthew’s season of life was too short. It had a first day and a last day and they were just too

close together.

But then again, when you love someone or something every season is too short…

whether it is football season…

deer season…

or the season of a good man’s life…

too short.


In my season with Matthew, I can still see him in my homeroom in the morning his junior and senior year. He always was one of the first ones sitting in my classroom with his books open quietly studying. Not drawing attention to himself. In the senior slide show, he was in the pictures he was never in the foreground and never calling attention to himself, just quietly in the background with his friends.


School wasn’t first on Matthew’s list because it didn’t have to be — life & family & farm & friends – that meant so much to him.

I remember when he came in and said,

“Aunt Vicki, I wanna be a firefighter.”

You could see the fire in his eyes when he said it.

And he entered a season of excitement for him. He loved to help people.


But let’s look at the big picture for a minute…


There are amazing people

who are with us for a season…

They are kind…

and encouraging…

and a reliable


and we take them

for granted.


We think

They will always be there for us

because they always have been.






the season

ends too fast

for this kind of person —

answers the call for help

loves us unconditionally

shows up when we’re in trouble.


But when our good Lord

takes them from us

it is like we’ve lost our rock

we’re used to leaning on them

they’ve always been there

without question


Ecclesiastes 3 says

1For everything there is a season,

a time for every activity under heaven.

2A time to be born

and a time to die.


This place is called earth, not heaven. If it was heaven, there would be no death and no tears and every tear would be wiped from our eyes and Matthew would be with us.


Now, today, I’m going to ask and plead for a new season…

for we never get over those we have loved and lost

but we have to remember what an older lady in my Sunday School class once told me about the three children she’s sent on to heaven,


“You can’t lose someone when you know where they are…”


For we all have seasons.

We all have a time to die.

But right now, every single one of you living and breathing in this room






to LIVE.



Today we have a tribute in the annual for Matthew Hilliard

but I’m asking all of you to join in the tribute.


Be a living tribute to Matthew by

laughing loud

and hard

and by loving


and wide

and by giving a little hat tip to a stranger

and opening a door for an old lady.


Let’s give a tribute to Matthew

by showing up when someone needs help

by being brave

by taking care of our firefighters

and our policemen

and by taking your hat off during the national anthem.


But I’ll tell you something Matthew would say if he could come back here and stand in front of us today…

Matthew didn’t like a lot of drama.

When his class was doing the prom, if they had drama – Matthew left the room. He was like that.

He didn’t like a lot of attention

and he wanted people to get along and be happy.

He’d be angry at the long faces.

And he’d fuss at Aunt Vicki for crying – I promise you, he would.


Be a living tribute to Matthew by

remembering that this is your time to live.


Because I can promise you this —not on my authority but on the authority of the word of God in His Holy Bible —  we will one day hear a trumpet and that will usher in a season with Jesus where all of us who believe in Jesus will rejoice.


And we will raise our fist to the sky and yell

“Death where is your sting – oh grave where is your victory”


But dear friends and precious family – both of Matthew and Mrs. Carole, if we can learn anything… it is that life is a short season and we’d better live it well.

Love your family. Get to know God. And be the kind of rock that when you go, people will miss you just as much as we miss Matthew and they’ll say you went too soon.

Because the grief we feel, my friends

is certainly the sign of a life well lived

and that

is our tribute.

By “Aunt” Vicki Davis, homeroom teacher

Never miss an episode

Get the 10-minute Teacher Show delivered to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit
Picture of Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

All Posts »

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere