Most Read

Top stories


Kindergarten Grad Brings Audience To Tears With Moving Speech Honoring His Late Mom

Jaxon Carter dedicated his speech to his 'beautiful mommy,' Taryn Marie Gainey, who tragically died in an apartment fire last July.

screenshots of Taryn Marie Gainey, Jaxon Carter and Justin Carter
WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7/YouTube via Linda Howard-Carter

A young boy from metro Detroit, Michigan inspired others with his moving kindergarten graduation speech.

Jaxon Carter—just 6-years-old—faced tragedy, but still achieved academic triumph.

Carter was just 5-years-old when his mother Taryn Marie Gainey died in an apartment fire in Harrison Township, Michigan—just one month before Carter started kindergarten.

At his kindergarten graduation from New Dawn Academy, a STEM-focused public charter school, Carter reflected on his late mother's life and influence.

Jaxon's dad, Justin Carter, told Good Morning America about how Jaxon came to attend New Dawn Academy.

"I had to find a school for him last-minute and it just so happened that the school was a great fit for him. The school alone was a lifesaver."

You can see Carter’s valedictorian speech here:

Carter said Jaxon's teacher invited him to give a "little speech" at graduation, but it turned into something more.

"His teacher asked him if he could give a little speech. The little speech turned into a full valedictory speech.

He said Jaxon worked diligently on the speech with the help of his grandmother—Carter's mother, Linda Howard-Carter—and that he wouldn't let Carter hear any of the speech until the day he shared it in front of everyone.

On that day, Jaxon delivered the whole nearly 4 minute speech from memory, honoring his late mother from the very beginning.

The 6-year-old said:

"When I started kindergarten at New Dawn Academy in August 2022, I was a little 5-year-old who had lost my beautiful mother a month before."

He paused for a deep breath before continuing:

"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."
"My kindergarten year helped me grow braver, smarter, kind-hearted, and more grateful."

In addition to talking about what he learned during Kindergarten, Jaxon thanked his teacher, his grandparents and his father.

"You are the best daddy ever, and I love you so very much."

He ended his speech by dedicating it to his mom.

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

Justin Carter said he was amazed by Jaxon's speech.

"The expressions, the words, everything that he was saying, you could see that he meant every word of it. He didn't fumble ... it was remarkable.

Carter said he talks with Jaxon about his mother every day to help keep her memory alive in both their minds.

It takes a village to raise a child, and Jaxon has that village.

Carter said all four of Jaxon's grandparents are active members of that village, and that Jaxon always has someone to turn to if he needs to talk.

New Dawn Academy's principal, Conrad R. Koch, said that he was "blown away" by Jaxon's speech, and that the whole audience was brought to tears by his words.

He also noted Jaxon's enthusiasm for school.

"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."
"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."

Hopefully Jaxon can carry that enthusiasm for learning through the rest of his education; it certainly seems like he has the support to help him through.