I have to be out the door by 6:45 this morning and at the high school by 7:15. Ya'd think after five years of retirement, I'd catch on, but once again, circumstances involving a book have me heading to the high school bright and early with all the other teachers returning from summer vacation.
Well, in some cases, I know teachers who've been hanging out at their schools for many, many hours over the past week or two. My sisters fit in that category as do many more. Once again, the myth of the three months off, six hours a day is debunked.
I wonder who started that story, probably the same person who's been trying to figure out that chicken crossing-the-road motive. Anyway, it's been around for a long time, and it appears to never go away. Nonetheless, one more time, I'll tell all the world that it's not true.
I have to go to the staff opening day/breakfast because Keokee Books and Panhandle Alliance for Education agreed that I ought to show up, say hello to teachers and sign a few Lessons with Love. I was originally supposed to speak to the teachers, but time wouldn't allow it.
So, this morning, in honor of teachers and good people everywhere, I'm going to include the few words I'd penned to share with the locals in my profession as they start another school year. Here goes . . . . . .
PAFE Teacher Breakfast Thoughts:
This summer I visited for all of two minutes with a former student who had come a long, long way home to celebrate his mother’s 70th birthday. I was headed out the door at the Landing Restaurant when I met him, so I kept our visit brief and to the point.
I wanted him to know that within my recently published memoir, I had given top billing to a story in which he was involved. It was the story of that December, 1984, when our house burned down just before Christmas. I wanted him to know that his efforts as student body president, along with those of an entire community, had changed my life and my outlook forever.
The generosity we’d seen because of a student-launched fund drive, because of fellow teachers and administrators working together, because of a community filled with generous hearts----all working quickly and efficiently to try to patch our lives back together again----what story could surpass that "Lesson of Love" we all experienced as a family in need.
I told this former student he had achieved some phenomenal things in his life, but that one event so many years ago where he served as a leader had profound impact upon me.
He was touched and inspired to share with me something he’d learned from another of his mentors after leaving Sandpoint High School. This military superior told him: Your legacy is the people you leave behind.
“I believe that, and I try to practice that wherever I happen to be,” he told me.
I walked away from our conversation that day, proud and fulfilled----knowing I had been his teacher and knowing that a young man is out there in the world succeeding but never forgetting one of the more important lessons in life, whether he’s in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Pentagon or Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
That young man, by the way, graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1985 as a superior student, athlete and leader. Five years later, he graduated No. 1 in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. His name is Greg Parker.
In any walk of life, and especially as teachers of young minds, your legacy is the people you leave behind. Teach them well and treat them well. You will be long remembered for both. That is the greatest reward a person could ever expect in this life and in this profession. Good luck.