Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A New Year- A New Difference Maker

It's a day of looking forward as the new school year starts tomorrow but for me, today was also a day of looking back. I woke up this morning and saw the obituary for a young man named Clark that I taught when I did my student teaching. He was a senior taking Economics and I was a brand new pre-service teacher with big ideas on how to make a difference. There aren't a lot of names I still remember from 13 years ago but he stands out still.

I still remember him because he made a difference to me. I was trying to make my Economics class unique- we made homemade pies one day in class for me to introduce the concept of "pie charts," then one day I had a stockbroker friend of mine speak to the class. That's why I remember this student. He purposefully asked questions in class when most of the other kids could really care less. I could never decide if he was doing it for me or to make our guest feel more comfortable but his "care" in that moment has stuck with me all these years. At the age of 30, he tragically died this week but as I see others post about him on Facebook the last few days I know he was known for his kindness. I just reaped the benefit of that personality trait on that teaching day so many years ago.

The 2015-2016 begins. There will be students walking in your door that need to be loved, heard, gently admonished, challenged, prayed for, side-hugged, encouraged, and respected. Some of our students don't get those things at home. Some of our students, like Clark, can teach us a thing or two about caring for others. As educators, we have a responsibility (and often power) to change the course of a kid's life for the good forever. We can't take that lightly.

As I go into this school year my prayer is that I would be a difference maker, that the students I teach, the teachers I support, and the families I serve would know my heart's goal is to be a positive influence in the lives I touch. Sadly, we can be difference makers negatively as well. My goal for this year is to get "ME" out of the equation and to focus on the tasks, needs, and people before me. My goal is that I would teach, lead, react, and listen with an open mind and discerning heart. It's asking a lot of myself sometimes because my nature is to feel threatened, hurt, or protective of the things I do professionally when challenged. This year I will strive to be a positive difference maker. Will you?