|Dr. Paul G. Young|
President & CEO
National AfterSchool Association
Can you remember the name of your first grade teacher? Most people can. I loved Mrs. Bateson, and as a result, I still remember playing school as a child. My younger sister was my obedient “student.” Effective first grade teachers turn kids onto learning; those who are not so good at what they do leave devastating effects from which some kids never recover.
What about your fifth grade teacher? Or your seventh grade science teacher? How many teachers can you remember? Most every individual has fond memories of at least one special teacher (maybe one of the toughest) who had a positive influence on their life. Our best teachers wielded tremendous influence because they were always able to find ingenious ways to motivate their students to learn. Many of us grew up wanting to be just like that special teacher.
You can never underestimate the influence of a good teacher. Likewise, you can never underestimate the power and influence that afterschool professionals have in the lives of their students.
We’ve all worked with difficult kids. And each of us strives to meet their needs in different ways. As challenging as it may to develop trust and share a relationship with some kids, they are the ones we likely influence more than we ever know. Going above and beyond when no one else will often leads to fond recognition, pride, and a lasting influence that extends beyond the imagination.
I encourage you to contact those favorite teachers and afterschool professionals from your past. Let them know how you appreciated them and the lessons they taught you. Those lessons likely aren’t about math or science, but more about how to dream, live, and achieve. The most influential teach life lessons.
So tomorrow, when Johnny or Susie are pressing your buttons, I encourage you to take a deep breath, step back, look into his or her eyes, and see the future. I hope you’ll see your reflection and the positive influence you will have. Sometimes, it’s tough to see it. But it’s there.
Never underestimate your influence and what you are doing for kids.
And by the way, on their behalf - thank you!