Last weekend, I attended a memorial service and a birthday party on the same day. The range of emotions went from sadness and tears to laughter and smiles –all within hours of each other.
Of course during the service, my mind started wondering to all sorts of places. The deceased was a father of a teacher who had encouraged his children to get a college education. Upon hearing this, thoughts of how I became an educator started entering my mind. It was my father who told me “Education is the one thing that no one can take away from you.” That one piece of advice has been my mantra during my career as an educator. And it’s importance seemed so tangible that I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to pass on such knowledge and make a difference in childrens’ lives.
Education is a gift to all of us. We have heard that adage of “it takes a village to raise a child.” There’s beauty to that sentiment. We are all educators–whether we are teachers, parents, grandparents, young, old, male, female, or human beings. We all have something to teach and instill into each others lives. We all have something to learn from each other. Some of us—myself included—have been fortunate to make a career out of it. It’s an extraordinary feeling to instill one memory, one quote, or one smile into someone’s life. I knew of the joyous feeling of teaching teenagers for much of my career, but now my work with adults is even more satisfying and humbling.
And that brings me to the birthday party I attended later on that evening. The festivities was for a former student who looks to me as her mentor. She was one of my favorite students of all time. Why? Because she may not have been smartest or fastest math student that walked into my class. But she was one that showed the most heart and gave me the most effort. She was/is the definition of integrity. She made me strive to be better teacher. And I have found that those kind of students are few and far between. And as an educator, you never know what kind of impact you have made on any child.
And so, as I sat there at her Sweet 16 party, I didn’t see my former student. I saw a young woman whom I was lucky enough to cross paths with. I sat there with pride because I had something to do with her life. I hope that I made a difference in her life as I did with many others. I hope everyday that I’m making a difference when I coach my teachers with their math curriculum. I hope that the joy, the excitement, and my love of math (#mathnerd) gets passed onto them.
I’m suddenly lost for words as to how to close this essay/blog post. So instead, I decided to include pictures of past students, current students, and people who have been educators in my life. I write this with the greastest humbleness because not only have I’ve been their educator but they have been mine. All of these people inspire me to be the best teacher I can be. We all have something to learn from each other….and I’m grateful to be any part of that learning process.
Until next time…keep learning, keep educating, and make a difference,