By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—McNary math teacher Louis Tiller’s dad died when he was 9 years old, leaving his mom to raise six kids.

One of Tiller’s own sons had craniofacial surgery when he was 8 months old. Another was diagnosed with dyslexia.

Tiller failed his first Calculus class in college and when he interviewed for a math position at McNary, the first time, Tiller didn’t get the job.

“Sometimes life knocks you down,” Tiller told the McNary graduating class of 2018 on Friday, June 8 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds Pavilion. “It’s your choice whether to get back up. The teachers who you will remember and the classes that you will recall from high school will not be the easy ones. In school as in life the best things come with the satisfaction of overcoming something truly difficult.”

Tiller said he expects the Class of 2018 to overcome disappointment and to continue when things are difficult.

“I expect you to get up when life knocks you down,” Tiller said. “I expect you to do something great. I expect these things because the Class of 2018 has shown me that that is who they are. You inspire me to be a better teacher, a kinder person and a better man. You, the Class of 2018, represent the best in Keizer, the best of our society. You inspire me with your talents but also your kindness towards others, your persistence and your resilience.”

Samuel Hernandez Jr., McNary’s student speaker, left the graduating class with a lesson he learned running cross country.

“You must treat every day as a new race if you want to get anywhere in this life because at the end of the day aren’t we all in the same race,” Hernandez said. “What is your race? How much effort, attitude and focus are you going to dedicate to accomplishing your dreams?”