I recently enjoyed a thought-provoking discussion with three friends - a music professor in Education for over 50 years; a nurse who works at Children's Hospital, who is also the mother of the third person in the group; a young man who finished his student teaching, but is not employed as a teacher. We had a very lively conversation about the importance that just ONE person can have on the life and choices of another. We know this to be true for parents and their major influences over their children, as well as for siblings and their efforts as torch-bearers for the brothers and sisters to follow in their footsteps on the path of life, but the talk quickly turned to school and to teachers, who may choose to be the "Power of One" for so many in their charge.
The Professor said that through the years, even when he was exhausted and thought he could not reach out to another student, he thought of his own daughter, who fell apart after the death of her mother, his wife. She was in utter collapse from grief at her college, but her professors and mentors scooped her up and delivered her to counseling and therapy, surrounding her in a cocoon of love and support. He knew how important it was to his daughter to have that one person who cared enough to get her back on track, and all of these years later, he is still grateful, as is his daughter. Consequently, he has been the one person who has made the difference for so many students. He chose to do the right thing every time, changing one life at a time.
The nurse and her son reminisced about his college choice and his discomfort with his school, until the Power of One came in the form of a friend who included him in his music venues, which led to his attainment of a college degree in music education. Just one person changed his life. The Power of One. And when this young man finds a teaching position, he will extend his Power of One to others in his charge.
Each man and woman has the capacity to change the world, one person at a time.
This discussion made me think of a scene in f It's a Wonderful Life, the Frank Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart. I have always loved the line said by the angel Clarence to George Bailey. This scene comes a short time after Clarence grants a wish George makes: the wish that he had never been born. In fact, I think this little speech could possibly be the best single support for the power that one person has to improve the lives of others. You may remember in the film that George discovers that his brother Harry drowned at the age of 9, because George was not there to save Harry. Consequently, every man on Harry's WWII transport ship was killed, because Harry was not there to save them. Each person has a tremendous impact on others. I want to share Clarence's quote with you:
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he? . . . You see George, you really had a wonderful life."
I, too, had a wonderful life in the classroom. I absolutely loved teaching for all 37 years, and I know that I chose to be a positive influence and work as much magic as I could as a Power of One. I loved helping students to make better choices and to believe in themselves.
Every person has the capacity to change the world, one person at a time. We are each a Power of One. You do not have to be a parent or sibling or teacher to make a difference in the life of another.
During this season, and throughout the year, please share your positive outlook and strength with someone who needs it. Change your world and someone else's world for the better. . . one person at a time.
Merry Christmas to all of my readers.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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www.dederittman.com for Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher