After learning the Moral Focus virtue of the month was respect, Ford spoke of memories he has of his father and the respect he showed members of Congress throughout his time in politics. He also recounted his mother’s love of people and how she shared her respect with others.
“I think that’s wonderful that each month you have a Moral Focus,” Ford said. “Respect is important to all ages.
“Something I always admired about my mother was how kind she was to all the people who worked in the White House. She would learn something about their families, she would ask about the things that were important to them, she would get to know something about everyone who worked there. To me, that spoke to her respect that she had for all the staff in the White House that she really invested in their lives, spent time with them, and really cared about them.”
Ford also spoke about his father’s love of swimming, noting that the former president loved swimming in Lake Michigan throughout his life, and how he also had an outdoor pool built at the White House to swim laps, sometimes three times a day. That pool is still located on the South Lawn near the West Wing.
Scholars took turns asking Mr. Ford questions. Would he ever want to be president? Has he met any presidents other than his dad? What was it like when his dad was president?
“What was it like when my dad was president? It was a very crazy time because it happened so quickly. When President Nixon resigned, the next day they swore my dad in as president. We had to move all our stuff to the White House, and understand our role as first family, and what responsibilities we had.”
That led to a question about his favorite room in the White House: the Solarium. He and his wife Gayle were newlyweds and would spend time at the very top of the White House listening to music and enjoying the evening views of Washington, D.C.
Ford surveyed the large group of students and said he was glad to see so many children from different families and ethnicities present at the school. It’s just one of the highlights of the school, which has outperformed the local district for the past 13 years.
“When I look at you it gives me great hope for the future of our country. I’m so glad to see people who are seeking to really grow and develop their minds, to learn good things in school as well as to be good citizens and good people. It really is a meaningful thing for me to see here where my father and mother lived in Grand Rapids. I commend you and your teachers and the staff of this wonderful school.”
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About Walker Charter Academy
Walker Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Walker, Mich., serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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