Kindergartener Honors Mother Who Lost Her Life In A Fire During Graduation Speech

"I know she will always be with me in my heart."

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While graduation ceremonies can be undoubtedly emotional for parents, teachers, and students, none of them who attended a kindergarten graduation in Sterling Heights, Michigan could have prepared for the bittersweet speech delivered by six-year-old Jaxon Carter. By the end of the speech made by the adorable student who was smiling ear to ear, there was not a single dry eye in the room. 

Kindergarten graduate Jaxon Carter dedicated his graduation speech to his mother who died in a fire last summer. 

In July 2022, just weeks before little Jaxon was supposed to start kindergarten, his mother, Taryn Marie Gainey, lost her life in an apartment fire, his father, Justin Carter told “Good Morning America.” 


While dealing with his own grief, Justin scrambled to find a school that would be an ideal fit for his son to start kindergarten and enrolled him at New Dawn Academy, a public STEM-focused charter school. "I had to find a school for him last minute and it just so happened that the school was a great fit for him," Justin said. "The school alone was a lifesaver." 

Jaxon excelled in his academics, and became Valedictorian of his class. 

At the end of the school year, Jaxon was asked by his kindergarten teacher to deliver a speech at his kindergarten graduation ceremony, an offer he graciously accepted. 


According to Justin, Jaxon practiced and rehearsed his speech with his grandmother, Linda-Howard Carter. She and her grandson decided to keep the speech a surprise for his father and did not allow him to read or hear it before the graduation ceremony. 

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When Jaxon took the stage to address his classmates, teachers, and parents, they were overwhelmed with emotion at what the six-year-old had to say. 

"When I started kindergarten at New Dawn Academy in August 2022, I was a little five-year-old who had lost my beautiful mother a month before," he started off his nearly four-minute speech. "I learned to play with other kids, read books, answer or ask questions like how or why, use correct grammar, and use my school tablet." 

Jaxon also credited kindergarten for allowing him to grow “braver, smarter, kin-hearted, and more grateful.” 




He thanked his teacher, saying that whenever he was sad, she would always tell him “it will be all right.” 

He also thanked his four grandparents and father for helping him get through kindergarten. “I want to say thank you to my Gigi, grandma, my two uncles, and a special thank you to my dad,” Jaxon says, gesturing toward his father. “You are the best daddy ever!” 

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The most moving part of Jaxon’s speech, however, is his dedication to his late mother. 

"I dedicate my speech, good grades, all school awards, and my kindergarten graduation to my beautiful mommy, who I will always love and miss so very much," he says.  "I know she will always be with me in my heart." 

Justin said that he was left “shocked” and “speechless” by his son’s speech. "The expressions, the words, everything that he was saying, you could see that he meant every word of it," the proud father said. "He didn't fumble ... it was remarkable." 

Jaxon’s principal, Conrad R. Koch, was also “blown away” by his speech, noting that there was not a dry eye in the room by the end of it. He described Jaxon as a dedicated student who arrived at school with a smile on his face, despite his grief. 

"I greet all the students in the morning and I always had a 'good morning' from him or a high-five. He came to school with a good attitude, ready to learn," Koch told “Good Morning America.” "Whether it was the spelling bee, learning how to read, learning how to write his name, whatever the challenge was, Jaxon was able to meet it." 


Justin says that he and Jaxon talk about his late mother often to keep her memory alive and that he will always have his family alongside him rooting for him. 

"He has a nice village where he has someone he can talk to at all times," Justin adds, noting that all four of his grandparents are a “huge part of his success.” 

Jaxon deserves to be honored and commended as well. While working through his grief, he managed to prevail, show up for school each day with a smile, and go above and beyond to excel in his studies. 

Although Jaxon’s mother is no longer physically here, we have no doubt that she was looking down on him, cheering him on along with the crowd during his wholesome speech, and will always be watching over him. 


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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.