Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Teacher's Legacy

Today I experienced something that only strengthened my thoughts about why people enter the teaching profession.  My dad is a career teacher and administrator.  His greatest love of all was music, and he led concert bands and marching bands for years.  He traveled to parades and national football championships to do half-time shows and took his bands to the Rose Bowl Parade. In all of the years that he has worked in various school systems and institutions of higher education, he has impacted so many students and families.  Of course I've always known that and respected my dad so much for the relationships he has built over time, but how do teachers know, unless students come back to tell them, what kind of influence their efforts had on the lives of those students?

The other day, on Facebook, a former student reached out to some of her former instructors with a quote about something to the effect of how teachers are not just teachers but lifelong connections, and her comments and the fact that she took the time to include my name in that list of former teachers energized me.  At that moment, I knew what I needed to do for my dad's 80th birthday.  Twice retired but still substituting, he could never give up this passion that he has within him.

I used the power of social media to make some strategic contacts who I knew could reach out to others in their "groups" to disseminate a request:  write a note, memory, or wish to send to my dad to celebrate his 80th mark!  Word traveled quickly, and in a few weeks time, I had well over 100 texts, notes, emails, cards, pictures, and more sent to me to be included in a scrapbook that I constructed and planned to present to him on his birthday.

Today was the day.  Before I pulled the thick, heavy collection of memories out of the decorative bag, I told my dad, "you know... sometimes people just need to know what impact they have had on the
lives of others."  He was taken by surprise, and as he opened the book and began to turn the pages, all he could say was "oh my, oh my."  Imagine the warmth I felt when I saw the emotions in my dad's face as he looked over note after note.  I cannot think of a better gift that I could have given.

My dad took the book home, and I know that he will have hours of reading and remembering people who found it in their hearts to take the time to send a long letter or just a simple "happy birthday." I watched him connecting with them once again, if just for a moment, through shared experiences.

My dad will know that he impacted the lives of many.