Kindergartener brings audience to tears remembering 'beautiful mommy' in graduation speech: VIDEO

Jaxon Carter's mom died in a fire just before the start of the school year.

ByKatie Kindelan ABCNews logo
Thursday, July 20, 2023
6-year-old dedicates kindergarten graduation speech to his late mother
Jaxon Carter's mom died in an apartment fire last July. He honored his "beautiful mommy" in a speech at his kindergarten graduation one year later.

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. -- A 6-year-old kindergarten student brought a room full of parents, teachers and fellow students to tears with a speech dedicated to his late mom, whom he described as his "beautiful mommy."

Jaxon Carter's mom Taryn Marie Gainey died in an apartment fire last July, Jaxon's dad Justin Carter told "Good Morning America."

Just weeks later, Jaxon started kindergarten at a school that was new to him, New Dawn Academy, a public STEM-focused charter school in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

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

In June, at the end of the school year, Jaxon was asked by his teacher to deliver a speech at his kindergarten graduation ceremony.

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

Jaxon worked on the speech with his grandmother, according to Carter, who said his son and his mom, Linda Howard-Carter, did not allow him to read or hear the speech before the graduation ceremony.

The nearly four-minute speech, which Jaxon delivered from memory, paid tribute to his late mom from the start.

"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," Jaxon said, taking a long breath after delivering that line. "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."

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

Jaxon thanked his teacher in his speech, describing her as someone with a "big heart" and saying, "When I was sad, she used to tell me it would be all right."

He also thanked his four grandparents, who are helping to raise him, and Carter, giving him a "special thank you," saying, "You are the best daddy ever, and I love you so very much."

Jaxon 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," he said. "I know she will always be with me in my heart."

Carter said he was "shocked and speechless" watching his son deliver such a moving address.

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

Carter said he and Jaxon talk about Marie Gainey daily in order to keep her memory alive.

"He has a nice village where he has someone he can talk to at all times," Carter said, noting that his parents and Marie Gainey's parents are critical parts of that village.

"They are a huge part of his success," he added.

Conrad R. Koch, the principal of New Dawn Academy, said he was "blown away" by Jaxon's graduation speech, noting there was not a dry eye in the room at the end of it.

He said Jaxon is a standout student who showed up at school every day with a smile, even amid 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 "GMA." "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."