“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
When I look back on my years in school, I don’t remember much about the food I ate, the clothes I wore, or the desks I sat at. But I do remember the names of the teachers who impacted me — Mrs. Hughes, 2nd grade, Fairview Elementary in Arkansas; Mrs. Jarvis, 4th grade, Rice Elementary in Texas. Though I don’t remember specifics, I know these two teachers helped me along and encouraged me.
Now that I’m a parent, I see the impact teachers and other leaders have upon my sons and their lives. And one such story stands out plainly, one which unfolded last week.
My middle son, 13 years old and in 8th grade, is passionate about basketball. He used to shovel snow under the hoop outside our wall in Prague, and play in muddy dirt/snow for hours in the dark, because there was no gym for them to use. Now that we’re in the US., he lives for basketball.
When his 8th grade season started in November, he tried out with the rest of his peers and was elated to make the team. The next day, he fell on the stairs and compound fractured his big toe. It was tragic.
Though his team last year had an excellent coach, was undefeated, and won the league championship, everything turned out differently this year. They lost early in the tournament, and their coach didn’t even come to one of the team’s games. BUT one of their teachers did. And she wrote something important, incredible, which will change all of their lives.
She wrote each of them a letter that night, the subject line: I’m So Proud of You!
“… It is such an honor to be your teacher. To see you excel on the court is one thing. To see you excel in the classroom is another. But to see you excel in your character is something that leaves me without words at times. Thank you for being so kind. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for being ambitious. Thank you for being caring. Thank you for your diligence in your studies. Thank you for your sincerity. You are all always so respectful to me and to others. … Thanks for showing everyone that in life you don’t have to be either a “nerd” or an “athlete” but you can be a dynamic and powerful combination of the two. Thank you for making me smile everyday for just being you…”
Her words bring tears to my eyes every time I read them. Aren’t these exactly the words each of us need to hear, and hope for our children to hear, often, to dare greatly and to strive to be ourselves?
Our world, our lives and the lives of our children, are never the same after hearing such powerful words.
Thank you to teachers like Mrs. R., and to those who give the tremendous gift of encouragement.