Sunday, June 5, 2016

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it. - Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali died this week at the age of 74, a great athlete and an icon of our society. Even when he was just beginning his career as a boxer, Ali showed the world that he had his eyes on the prize and that he was overflowing with confidence. With all of his titles and KO's and an Olympic gold medal, perhaps setting a great example for self-confidence and teaching others to be self-confident will be one of his most enduring lessons. 

Ali had his bike stolen at the age of 12, and he told the police officer that he would beat up the person who stole the bike. The officer told him that he would have to learn how to fight before that could happen. Officer Joe Martin was also a trainer for boxers at the local gym, and a mentorship was established.  Ali's hard work, talent, and perseverance, fired by his self-confidence, quickly propelled him up the ladder of success in the boxing world. (Source: )

Although I am not a boxing fan, I have always been interested in Cassius Clay (who then became Muhammad Ali) since I first saw him in the early 1960's in the family living room on our grainy black and white television set. When he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, I read all about it in the paper, and even presented it to my social studies class as my assigned current event, although I knew very little about Islam. Many criticized him and some even thought him boastful, but I liked the vision he had for himself, and I admired him because he was so sure of himself.  I did not perceive his self-assurance to be brash; I thought that since he knew how hard he was working to gain what he wanted, that he was entitled to speak out about his dreams and about being "the greatest."  Muhammad Ali was an unlikely role model who taught me that if I believed in myself, worked hard, and gave it my all, I could be successful at anything I chose. I have carried that lesson in my heart all these years, and I have shared that lesson with my former students thousands of times during my 37 year teaching career.  Ali didn't just talk about his dreams, he lived his dreams,in a "bigger than life" fashion - for all of the world to see.  Everyone noticed him!  Do you know why? Look around you, and take stock of how many people are really living their dreams. The answer is not very many; because most people are content with just talk, and they never take the action to fulfill their dreams. Not Ali.

As Ali grew older and was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, he seemed to become somewhat introspective, and his past interviews and glorious quotations and observations of life offer the world so many lessons to learn - from his self-advancing thought process, his strong work ethic, and his total self-confidence.  I wish I would have liked to be able to tell him so.  Who would have ever thought that a young girl who never liked boxing could be so influenced by a boxer? Sometimes life offers lessons in mysterious ways. 

If you are a teacher reading this, please share Muhammad Ali's "success-through-hard-work-and-lots-of-self-confidence" story with your students. Although his life has ended, his teachings never will.  R.I.P., Great Friend I Never Met. Thank you for your inspiration!

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER.  Many colleges have made the book required reading. 
Signed copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at .  The website IS UP AND RUNNING!!!.  Signed copies ARE available!   Grady plush toys are ordered! 

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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