By Jerry Floate
Before I begin my story, let me get something straight. I do not want to come across as being arrogant. Everything that I have is due to God's wonderful grace. Without him, I would be nothing. An arrogant man believes he accomplishes everything alone, a confident man believes that he can accomplish everything through Christ.
My story begins in the late 70's in rural north Mississippi. We did not have much; my father was a single parent factory-worker who raised my sister and myself on his own. We grew up in a small rural community. I learned at an early age about the unspoken boundaries between black and white people. We attended school in a time not too long after forced integration, many of the white children in our district retreated to confines of the local private school. At an early age I can remember other adults at church or other places ask my father why he did not enroll us in a private school. He always said that the real world was not segregated, and that we would have to learn how to get along with all people if we were going to be successful in life.
My early years in education were not the best. I was an overweight child; we were poor and many of our clothes were hand-me-downs. At times, my weight and my wardrobe made me an easy target for teasing. To make things even worse, at an early age of eight, I had a third grade teacher that practically told me that I would never amount to much; I was made to feel as if I were "white trash". I had accepted this status and pretty much given-up on school. I became increasingly shy and withdrawn; to this day I still have bouts with self esteem. I lost all confidence in my abilities; it reflected in my school-work.
Some years later, my life took a change for the better. My sixth grade year I had a social studies teacher that I will call Mrs. L. Mrs. L was one of the nicest and most loving teachers that I ever had. Slowly, she began to mold my self esteem. She opened my eyes to the world and the opportunities that could be afforded to a small-town boy like me.
On the last day of school of my sixth grade year, she took me to the side and told me that I had the ability to be a perfect "A" student if I wanted to be! No one in entire young life had ever spoken to me in this way. That day was milestone in my life; it was a turning point. No longer would I accept being inferior, because someone believed in me! The next year I made the honor roll, which was the first time in my life.
Today, I am a middle school vice-principal with three degrees. I'm currently completing my doctorate degree in Educational Leadership. All of this because of a few words from a loving teacher over twenty-five years ago.
There are a lot "Good" teachers out there. They come to work every day and teach their students to the best of their abilities. However, great teachers truly have a love for their students. They treat their students the same way they would treat their own children. Good teachers have an ability to cover the curriculum and grow most of their students. Great teachers live to not only teach the curriculum, but to "inspire" and to "motivate" their students to reach their full potential. I believe that God puts a Mrs. L in every school.
The power of a teacher is a mighty thing. I am so lucky that God put Mrs. L in my life. If it were not for her, my life could have easily went in another direction. If you are a teacher, or if you are thinking about becoming a teacher, remember the awesome power that you have each day you go to work. You have the power to tear-down or build-up the lives in your care.
Lastly, if you had a Mrs. L in your life, go back and tell him or her "thank you". Teaching today, is harder than it has ever been in history. Teachers need to know they are making a difference. It's what keeps them motivated!
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Komen Cgsyed :
Selamat menjalankan tugas kepada semua pendidik seluruh negara, curahkanlah ilmu yang diamanahkan oleh Allah kepada kita, semuga segala penat lelah, keikhlasan kita mendidik anak-anak yang diibaratkan seperti kain putih itu bakal menjadi saham untuk kita apabila menemui Allah kelak. Usahakanlah untuk menjadi Jutawan Akhirat dahulu sebelum bergelar jutawan dunia. Guru Jutawan Akhirat.