I saw our weeknd fill-in mail carrier today as I looked to see if I had anything worthwhile in my box. I didn't. I bump into him every couple of weeks but only on Saurday. He was leaving as I walked up. He's of Filipino descent and he always asks about my summer missions to Asia. I am pretty sure he knows my name but he only addresses me by the title of Coach. After he asked about school ending, he had this to say:
"Coach, you been working out?"
I told him that I do, mixing swimming with lifting. He followed with,
"Looking good, Coach!"
Now, I don't think I am very vain but I think I probably puffed out my chest a little during our conversation. It only seemed natural!
Several weeks ago, I had my students write what they see when they look in the mirror, based on James 1:22-24. A number of them got to me when I posted what they wrote here, anonymously. One bothered me enough to keep the young lady after class and ask her about her thoughts. Part of her response involved working so hard at school but never being recognized for her efforts. What she revealed to me made sense but I am not sure how to fix it. We are in a society that with little ones at least, we give made up awards to make them feel important which when they get to a certain age, cheapens or devalues the prize. That wasn't what my student was saying- she just wants someone to notice that she is putting extra time in both academics and sports. She wants a 'good job!' now and then which is not unreasonable. I think our school does OK in this department but I know I can do better as a teacher. The young lady promised to put pen to paper and give me some ideas of how I/we could do a better job in recognizing what are kids are doing. (I probably should mention here she is one of my favorite students ever!)
As believers, we know we don't strive for perishable trophies or crowns that are temporary, that our treasure is in heaven. And yet the Savior on numerous occasions bragged publicly about a person's faith, whether known sinners or centurions or former lepers. He praised the giving of an anonymous widow who contributed only two cents into the temple treasury. Would it hurt us to throw a little of that "well done, good and faithful servant" terminology to those whose life we can enrich on some level? Believe me, I've felt a glow since my looking good quote of several hours ago and I am just slightly past high school age. It's never too late.
Right before I started this entry, I carried on a back and forth Facebook conversation with a lady from my hometown in Nebraska. It started over memories of our living in the same little house in different decades but it was deeper than some common property. You see, she had been in my mom's fifth class at Willard School and as we conversed over the Internet, I told her how much Mom had treasured her as a student, one of her very favorites over a long and storied classroom career. She replied with,
She inspired me. She always believed in us. I felt very connected to her. I think that is why she has such a special place in my heart. I share stories about her with my students every year. I loved the way she tilted her head and smiled. I always think of her that way. Thank you for sharing that with me!"
You know, I don't know if Mom's former pupil, now a noted teacher in her own right, ever realized how much she meant to Nelda Hawley. I'm glad I told her because in return, I learned a little more about the woman who brought me into the world. Maybe recognition rebounds to you when you take the time. It simply starts with noticing the good in others. Perhaps I should take my blinders off.
Applicable quote of the day:
"If we can take young people who excel at the highest levels, put them on the same kind of pedestal as the all-state basketball player and the all-state football player, and begin to get the same kind of recognition, it will have a profound effect, and we are finding that it does."
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