ON BECOMING A TEACHER
February 13, 2017
In the early years of my youth, I had always dreamed of becoming a teacher. But I thought… being a poor farm boy… that was a "way-out" thought, if not an almost impossibility. I knew that in order to become a teacher, I would need to go to college, and I had never ever even seen a college or barely knew anyone who had gone to college. In fact, some of my friends joked about that by saying, "hey, you are a country boy, how are you ever going to go college?" And it was an arrogantly snooty village boy who asked "hey country boy, are you going to wear your farm overalls to college?" But, it was my rural school teacher who so warmly and enthusiastically encouraged me to seek my passion in life. I am indebted to Miss Olga Herren, my teacher. I knew it would not be easy and it would be very expensive to pursue my hopes. But I was determined. And so, on Monday, September 8, 1947, I took my first step on the stairs leading into Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State Teachers College.
In reflecting on the times in my life, it occurs to me that the difficult experiences always pass to a tolerable level. And the positive, uplifting aspects of one's life journey seems to hold steady throughout, as long as one nurtures them with possibility thinking. I have found that we are often faced with what appears to be insurmountable problems which may very well be disguised possibilities.
Hope lies in imagination, and in the courage to make possibility thinking into actual reality. I have found when you hear a voice that whispers "you cannot accomplish that task"; go ahead and accomplish the task and the voice of negativity will be silenced. For you see, resilience represents one' capacity... one's collective energy points... to move ahead under adversity and accomplish what you thought was next to impossible. In short, focus on the journey, not only the destination. For satisfaction is found not only in finishing the activity but in the doing what it takes to reach fulfillment. For achievement is not attained by chance, it must be sought with zeal and with diligence.
I believe that it takes zeal to move creatively through life's journey. The creative may be at a place where you have never been before. You may need to leave, for a moment, the comfort zone of your life, into the uncertainty of your aspiration. You can't get there by automobile or bus, but only by hard work, planning, and moving forward painstakingly and creatively. My wife found that in music and teaching and I discovered that in teaching and writing. And our children and grandchildren are discovering that as well. In reality, what you will discover will be quite wonderful; you will discover YOURSELF.
How do we keep our inner zeal alive? Two things, at minimum, are needed: an ability to appreciate the positives in our life - and a commitment to action. It is important to ask and answer these questions: "What is good in my life, and further, what still needs to be done?" For you see, the heart that receiveth (and I have received much from others in my time) will giveth.
For me, becoming a teacher, was one way I was to able to accomplish that which I sought to achieve. To touch the lives of others as others have touched mine. For you see, no day is wasted when one touches another person's life in a positive and meaningful way. And so, I discovered that we enrich our days by giving something of ourselves to others. It may be by a warm smile, a kind word, a sympathetic ear, an inspiring word, or a helping hand. You see, that is exactly what a very thoughtful, virtuous teacher did for me years ago, and others are doing for me today. Hopefully, during the past 66 years of teaching, I may have been able to return in some small way this virtuous blessing that others have so generously and thoughtfully done for me. A fulfillment of a dream? You bet it is! And a special tribute to my teacher, Miss Olga Herren, who went to be with the Lord the day I graduated to become a teacher. Indeed,"things work in marvelous ways, they are wonders to behold."