By J. Gerald Harris
ELBERTON – Rhonda Driver was given a small opportunity as a child, and, because of her faithfulness, diligence and educational accomplishments, she has become an important educator, helping to guide and motive high school students to achieve and succeed and she has proven herself to be a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rhonda has an associates degree from Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs and a bachelor of arts and a postgraduate education specialist degree from the University of Georgia. After having served as a math teacher at Elbert County Comprehensive High School beginning in 1980, she accepted a new role six year ago to serve as a graduation coach at the Elbert County school. She indicated that her goal is to see that every graduate is either employed, enlisted in military service or enrolled in some institution to continue their education.
While Ronda has made an invaluable contribution to Elbert County’s public education, those who joyfully serve Christ may find it interesting to know that Rhonda accepted an opportunity as a six-year-old child to play the piano for her church for a Sunday evening worship service in 1964. Now, 57 years later she is still tickling the ivory for Falling Creek Baptist Church in Elberton and has been the one constant centerpiece of the church’s music program throughout the tenure of nine different pastors.
Rhonda is not only an educator, but she is intricately woven into the fabric of the church’s music ministry and Bible study programs. She is also a wife and mother. She is married to William Driver and they have two adult children.
Throughout her life, this educator and pianist has lived out the words of Jesus, “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”
Rhonda recalled, “I was asked to play the piano at age six because there was no one else available to be the pianist on that particular Sunday evening; and I was the only one with experience at the piano.
“I think I played ‘There is a Fountain’, because that is the first hymn I learned to play and my first recital piece, but as I remember I only played the right hand – and probably just the top note.”
The Elberton native started taking piano lessons when she was five years old. She explained, “My mother’s friend, Sue Anderson, who was the pianist at her church, agreed to teach my aunt, who happened to be my age, and me even though she always said she did not know much about music.”
Playing some kind of musical instrument was almost an imperative for Rhonda, because music was a significant part of her father’s family. There were family members who played the piano, banjos, fiddles, harmonicas and did lots of singing. She recollected, “Many of my most precious memories as a young child involved music with my family. However, I suppose my greatest motivation for learning to play the piano was to please my mother who wanted me to learn, because she had always wanted to be able to play the piano.”
As a child, Rhonda began to play the piano regularly for the Falling Creek Baptist Training Union (BTU). She stated, “Although our church is not large the leadership recognized the importance of discipleship and the need to give responsibilities to every age group, so at age eleven I became the pianist for the BTU.
“I played one, sometimes two songs for the general assembly and then we would go to our separate classes to learn about the Bible and the work of God’s kingdom. After five years as the pianist for the BTU, I became the church pianist at age 16 when I was a junior in high school. I had already begun to take piano lessons from others who introduced me to classical music and more formal music theory; however, my first love continued to be church music.
“My elective courses in college were filled by enrolling in piano classes where I discovered the importance of sight reading, which has been helpful in learning new music quickly and not panicking when a new song is requested.”
Rhonda Driver believes that worshiping God is the most important thing a believer does, and Colossians 3:16-17 seems to be a guiding principle in her life: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
To show you the degree of Rhonda’s willingness to serve she returned to Elberton on Sundays during her college years to teach Sunday School and play the piano. She has taught the senior adult ladies Sunday School class, the college and career class, and now assists in the young adult class. She has served as the Vacation Bible School (VBS) coordinator and last summer returned to teach VBS for grades 5-6.
Rhonda testifies, “I am thankful for a church that did not allow age to serve as a barrier for permitting a child/teenager to serve in the church. I would like for people to know from my story that God’s people should find a place of service and remain involved as long as possible.
“Restrictions such as age, education, and experience mean absolutely nothing in God’s Kingdom if He chooses to use you. I have never hesitated to take an active role wherever I was needed, because I was placed in adult roles early in my church life, equipped by God and mentored by exceptional Christians who did not want to see me fail. God is in the equipping business and He can take a small amount of talent, bless it and use it mightily for His Kingdom work.”