Monday, October 12, 2015

Did I Really Save his Life?

I was shopping in a store with my wife, and ran into a parent of a former student of mine. The student was someone that I really enjoyed having in my class and thought a lot.  We had small talk about what was going on in his life and what he was doing, and I told her to let him know that I was proud of him and that I wish him the best of luck. What she said next blew my mind.

"You saved my child's life." Completely floored by the statement, I humbly replied, "thank you but I don't think I saved his life. I just taught him and helped him be grow in his abilities."  

"No, John. You don't understand. Before you came to his school, he was spiraling downward. You're the one that saw potential in him and made him see potential in himself. You saved his life."  With tears welling up in her eyes, I instantly realized the power that I truly had as a teacher.

This conversation made me accept that I wasn't a teacher.  I was a life-saver, and I was completely oblivious to what I did not only for him but countless other students.  I thought all I was doing was teaching him my content. I believed that all I did was build a relationship with him and make him feel like he was important. I didn't think that I was actually saving his life.

We don't just Teach Kids; We Save lives.

I can't tell you how many times I said and thought this phrase. "I'm just a teacher." What we as a profession must realize is that we save students. We give them hope. We let them know that they're not alone.  We tell kids that they're not forgotten. We show them there's a world beyond their wildest dreams. We influence them to embrace their potential, and we convince them that their past doesn't have to be their future, and the present doesn't have to be forever.  What we tell them, and what we teach them actually transform their lives.  

The most interesting part about teaching or leading a campus is that in most cases we will never know that we saved a life, but we must always approach our work with the belief that what we are doing has the potential to save every student's life. What we do can transform lives. We can take students from their present lot in life and empower them to create a life that they never thought existed.  

I am reminded of the power of our profession by this song by Sidewalk Prophets, "Save My Life". I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you will embrace your daily opportunity to save lives. 

1 comment:

  1. I've had an experience like this, too, John. It is amazing when you think about our influence on the lives of young people. We can never take our role for granted or minimize what we do. We need to bring our best every day for our students. So glad you ran into his mom so that she could share that story with you! Keep doing what you do!