I don’t think people know who my hero is. I doubt my own children even know; they would say my it’s my grandmother, Nan. And, so would most people close to me. Nan was the best grandmother, and what I learned from her shaped my character, taught me far more than even she ever realized about reading and art. She was strong and kind, and she always inspired me. She touched every part of my life. Nan was a superhero.
There are heroes, and there are superheroes. Just ask any 8-year-old. A superhero makes a difference to everything in your life, like Nan. A hero is someone who touches your life in a very specific way.
Heroes inspire me, because then I become a better teacher. There is one person, a teacher in Baltimore long ago, whose teaching made me stop and realize what’s really important. When I read her story, I felt like I was walking in her footsteps. Well, I felt like those were the footsteps I had to walk in. I wanted to be just like her. I needed to be just like her. My throat still closes and my heart pounds when I read her simple story. It is in the original Chicken Soup for the Soul book, published in 1993:
Love: The One Creative Force
A college professor had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys. They were asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future. In every case the students wrote, “He hasn’t got a chance.” Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow up on the project to see what had happened to these boys. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors and businessmen.
The professor was astounded and decided to pursue the matter further. Fortunately, all the men were in the area and he was able to ask each one, “How do you account for your success?” In each case the reply came with feeling, “There was a teacher.”
The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement.
The teacher’s eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile. “It’s really very simple”, she said. “I loved those boys.”
My copy of the book is worn, and the pages open-up to this story, because I’ve read it too many times to count. It changed how I looked upon teaching and children. I often write about an emergent or child-centered curriculum, and how that has led to the best learning. Well, now you know where it started. And, now you know who my hero is. If I can fill her shoes and give children the same love so they can succeed, that’s all I need.
Today, more than ever, teachers need to look beyond the turmoil and trouble in reopening schools. The most important thing is to simply love the children. That is the most precious gift we can give to children.
Stay tuned for Teacher Story – #3
What a beautifully inspirational story 🥰
I’m glad you like it, Ritu.
Jennie, your post is so important and beautiful. From the teacher who sent his class out to do the study to the wonderful end result. Love is powerful and with love comes faith. The boys started believing in themselves. Won’t forget this.
Well said and so true, Miriam! We need to be reminded of these things.
Another inspiring story, Jennie. Thank you for sharing. Are you going back to school this month, or not as yet?
Thank you, Robbie. School is still undecided on reopening this summer as the guidelines are very strict.
My sons school has opened but only for our A level and Grade 12 students. The other grades are supposed to follow depending on how it all goes. I can imagine with very young children, the challenges are much greater.
Sounds like a good reopening plan. Let the older kids go back first, as they need school the most and they can test the waters. It is really tough with the little ones.
That’s a wonderful story, Jennie. It’s amazing what a difference one teacher can make. I just recently learned about a teacher my brother had that introduced him to the idea of teaching. The people who inspire us are not always obvious to the world, but they remain in our hearts.
I hope you have a great weekend.
How true, Dan. Thank you. Enjoy the weekend.
That is so true. Teachers can change lives. What can be more important? All you need is love and belief!
aw, this is a wonderful story, jennie. this.
Thanks, Beth! I’m glad you liked it.
I had some good teachers, and a few who were ‘great’. One is still a good friend, though in his late 80s now. They made every difference to my life as an 11 year-old in a poor part of London. So I completely see why that lady is your hero.
Best wishes, Pete.
My goodness! That is just wonderful. Thank you for telling me about your teacher, Pete. It really does come down to caring about the children. If you love them, they know you do. Then you connect. Once that happens, learning can begin. There you have it, teaching 101. It really is that simple. The teacher in Baltimore knew that all along. Best to you.
This is such a great story and oh so true. I recall the teachers who genuinely loved me and they certainly did make a difference. One, in particular, is my all-time hero. As I’m sure you are to many.
I think I know your all-time hero, the teacher who played music? Every new teacher should get lessons in connecting with children, and read these stories. A teacher’s love is a powerful thing. Thank you, Darlene.
That is cool you remember Miss Roll, who made such a difference in my life. 💖
Profound and inspiring story, Jennie. Such true and beautiful words spoken.
Welcome 😊 😊😊
I was unfamiliar with this story until you shared it, Jennie. The first thing all children need is to feel safe and loved. I think our most important role as educators is to look after their emotional needs, and then the rest of their educational needs can fall into place.
I’m diving back into my work in progress, and I’ve decided to limit blogging to fifteen minutes a day for the next three weeks. Consider it a compliment that I’m choosing to spend some of that time here, my friend.
Dear Pete, I consider being part of your fifteen minutes of blogging a great complement. Thank you! I’m so glad I could share a good teacher story that was new to you. One more story to go, which you will love.
I talked with an elementary school teacher friend today, and we summed it up. When a teacher loves their students, the kids know it. Then the teacher/student connection happens. That’s the beginning of learning. You said it well. Take care of the emotional needs, and the education can fall into place.
It’s that simple. Why don’t new teachers get a course in this? Best to you, my friend.
Just lovely, Jennie. I have a well-worn copy of that book too. And you’re right about love. Kids know. They can feel it. ❤ Be well.
Thanks so much, Diana. It is a terrific book. I wish every teacher understood that love comes first. Best to you!
What a great story!
Thanks, Jim. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hang on to your hat for the last one. I read it aloud to my husband this evening…whew!
Looking forward to it!
This is wonderful Jennie! I still remember the teachers who made such an impact on my life.
Thank you, Kim!
“I wanted to be just like her.”
You are, Jennie, in your ‘Jennie’ way…
I admit when I saw your header photo I immediately thought: “Her hero=John Lennon for kiddos”
I hadn’t connected the photo to the hero. That’s funny. Thanks, Laura. You say the nicest things.
Beautiful and sincere. 🙂
Too many teachers teach the lessons and not the child.
You are so right, Pam.
A beautiful story, Jennie. Thank you.
It is, John. Thank you.
How criminal that teachers are evaluated by the increase in reading level and math level rather than in the student’s emotional growth.
Criminal is a strong word, but I think you are absolutely right. Academic learning happens after a child is loved and grounded, not before.
Why is it so hard to understand that an anxious child cannot learn anything?
Beautiful, Jennie! This gave me the chills.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Becky!
Such a touching story. Without that dear lady, I’m sure those boys’ futures would have been much different.
I think so, too. 176 out of 180 who achieved success is incredible.
I did a double-take when I saw those numbers.
this moved me deeply. Thank you for inspiring me . .again. stay well and safe-love Michele
Thanks so much, Michele. We teachers need some joy and inspiration at this time. One more story ahead!
Wonderful, Jennie… ❤ LOVE is what it's all about! Thanks so much for sharing the LOVE!
Thank you, Bette. Yes, LOVE is what it’s all about.
So true, Jennie. What the world needs now, and always has, even little children, is love, sweet love.
I agree wholeheartedly. Great post, Jennie.
Thank you, Cindy!
Wonderful story, Jennie. Loved reading it. Love is always the answer.
It is, Marlene. Thank you. My last story is also from the Chicken Soup book. I wonder if you will remember it. Tomorrow!
It’s so true, Jennie. When we love our students, teaching is more than a job. We don’t even know we are changing lives and changing history because our goal was not to be a hero.
Beautifully said, Miriam!
Jennie, thank you. This is wonderful.
You’re welcome, Charles.
All we need is love and compassion. And a teacher who makes a difference. ❤
That’s so true! ❤️
A fantastic story. Thank you for sharing, Jennie! Yes, grandmothers are our first teachers in life. When they did a good job, one can become a wonderful teacher like you too. Michael
And I am also a grandmother! 🙂
Think so, Jennie! You have a double responsibility ever since.
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Thank you, Sue!
The best gift to any child from any adult in their life. (K)