Making a difference

In My Eyes: By Edward Antonio

Some of the world’s greatest leaders had been teachers, fellas, directly or indirectly.

India’s Mahatma Gandhi fought silently and taught about ahinsa or non-violence. He taught that truth and only truth shall prevail and without harming a single soul, he got freedom to India.

Jose Rizal taught the Filipinos the ideals of patriotism.

Cleisthenes of Greece put the voice of the people first by teaching the Athenians the value of democracy.
South Africa’s Nelson Mandela taught that every man is created equal, whether blacks or whites.

And teacher Lourdes?
Teacher Lourdes died August 26 last year after 36 years of dedicated teaching. During the funeral march, thousands of people whom she taught and whose hearts she touched joined the long March in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur on September 6, 2014, many of them shedding tears while talking of Teacher Lourdes’ love for them inside the classroom.

One of those whom Teacher Lourdes patiently taught even after school hours shared this story whom she said she adapted from T. Mali, on how she likened Teacher Lourdes to a mentor who made a difference in her life:

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education.

He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers.

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

To stress his point he said to another guest whose nameplate bore the name Susan.

“You’re a teacher, Susan. Be honest. What do you make?”

Susan, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,

“You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder.

I make them question, I make them criticize.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them write.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math and perfect their final drafts in English.

I make them understand that if you have the brains, and follow your heart, and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, must pay no attention because they just didn’t learn.

Susan paused and then continued.

“You want to know what I make?

“I make a difference. What do you make?”

The CEO was astounded and gave his apologies.

Here’s another story on how a teacher made difference in the lives of the people whose hearts he touched.

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest things they could say about each of their classmates and write them down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday, she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling.

“Really?” they quipped.

“I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” and, “I didn’t know others liked me so much,” were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one, those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her.

“Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked.

She nodded: “yes.” Then he said: “Mark talked about you a lot.”

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

“We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

“Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.”

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.”

Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.”

“I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary”
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: “I think we all saved our lists.”

That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.#