I couldn’t help but notice when I arrived for last week’s meeting of the Hannibal Board of Education that seated by herself on the back row was Diane Addison, the award-winning director of the school district’s Parents as Teachers Program (PAT).

I couldn’t help but notice when I arrived for last week’s meeting of the Hannibal Board of Education that seated by herself on the back row was Diane Addison, the award-winning director of the school district’s Parents as Teachers Program (PAT).

Because school and district administrators can find something better to do on the third Wednesday night of each month, most understandably are not in attendance when the school board meets unless they are scheduled to make a presentation. Consequently it seemed a bit odd to see Addison’s smiling face since she was not on the agenda.

Early on in the meeting a potential reason for her presence became clear – the announcement to the school board of her plans to retire at the end of the current school year.

Because she had recently mentioned her plans to me I was spared the indignity of having to pick myself up off the floor when the announcement was made.

In a follow-up e-mail after being advised of her plans, I suggested it was hard to believe she was old enough to retire. Addison assured me that she is, which I took on her word, being too much of a gentleman to ask to see her driver’s license.

Truth be told, Addison has been a part of Hannibal’s PAT program for over three decades - 31 years as a parent educator and for the past 24 as the PAT director in Hannibal.

After serving as the Courier-Post’s sports editor for 13 years, upon making the transition to news, one of the first stories I was assigned was a feature on Hannibal’s PAT program. My contact person for the article was none other than Diane Addison, who freely shared how important the program is for both parents and their offspring.

When my youngest daughter, Anna, came along I was afforded the opportunity to view Addison from a perspective other than just as an administrator with a deep passion for the program she oversees. At that point I came to see Addison as someone who took the time to get to know my daughter and her mom, Nancy, on a deeper level.

Despite the fact it has been a long time since Anna was the little blond-headed girl who loved so much to check out educational toys from the PAT office, Addison still keeps up with her, asking last Wednesday if Anna and her fiancee, Nick, have finalized a wedding date.

As Anna prepares to graduate this spring from Hannibal-LaGrange University with two degrees, I can’t help but give credit to Addison and the PAT program for helping make learning fun for my daughter at an early age.

The impact the PAT program has had with Addison at the helm certainly extends beyond the Henley hacienda and even households here in river city.

In December of last year Addison was presented the Director’s Coin of Excellence Award by the Missouri Department of Corrections. She received the award for her role in bringing PAT services to the Women’s Eastern, Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia. Since its introduction at the facility in 2004, PAT has served over 9,600 families.

Every Courier-Post article that appears on our website – www.hannibal.net – must be categorized so that it will appear in the appropriate places. One seldom-used designation is “making a difference.” And while I acknowledge my Tuesday prose has rarely, if ever, made a difference, I’m going to suggest that this week’s column be listed under that category because its subject, Diane Addison, certainly qualifies as one.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.