Friday, March 23, 2007

Making a Difference

Over the past twenty years, I have had over 1500 students pass through my class. Now my class is no ordinary class. I teach in a facility for young offenders. In other countries, you might refer to them as Juvenile Delinquents, young criminals or even misguided young men. After a while, the sea of faces and names seem to dissolve into a wave of faceless people. Due to confidentiality laws, we are unable to carry out follow-up studies on them and so we have no idea as to how many evolve into productive members of society. We can only hope that, as they move on in age, they will mature up and take life more seriously.

This morning, as I was on my way to work, I decided to head into a coffee shop as a substitute for the breakfast that I did not have. Now I was in a rush and as Murphy (from Murphy’s Law) would have it, the line up was too long to wait in. The next coffee shop was the same. I finally made it to the third shop and proceeded to the line up.

As I waited, a young man in his thirties approached me. I did not remember his name until he reminded me what it was but I did remember his face. He was a student of mine over fifteen years ago. During our conversation, he proudly informed me that he had been crime free since he was discharged from jail and my class. He was currently employed at the same place for over six years. He was married with four beautiful children. He had just moved into a new home. We spoke for about fifteen minutes and then said our goodbyes.

So, though I have no clue as to what most of my former students are doing in their lives, I do know what this young man named Aaron is doing which is being a productive member of society. Watching him return to his vehicle and drive off, I felt a bit of pride that maybe… just maybe I had a part in his success story.

Sometimes, though we may see ourselves as being insignificant in our society, we could very well be playing a much larger part and affecting many more people than we care to imagine.

I made it to work this morning feeling a lot better about myself knowing that what I do can and does make a difference!

18 comments:

Janice Thomson said...

What an inspiring story Dave and how appropriate you should meet this man at a time when there were feelings of loss in your own life. What a compassionate soul you are.

Wendz said...

Heartwarming. And not everybody gets to see even one result of their impact on someone's life...count yourself blessed.

Ruth said...

I feel teachers almost have more impact on kids than their parents do at times. It's so nice Dave, that you were able to see the impact you had, and still have. Here I am in my late 50's, and I still remember my favorite teachers and wished I could find them again, and say thank you..you turned my life around!!

Josie said...

Dave, that wasn't Murphy's Law, that was serendipity. You were meant to meet that particular person at that particular time, and I'll bet you both felt good afterwards, your student for being able to tell you about his good life, and you for knowing how much you contributed to his good life. Those things are never accidents.

Cheers,
Josie

Proxima said...

Yeah! There is only so much we can do, and all you can do is try and sometimes we succeed.
-P

psycho-therapist said...

dave,
there is nothing like having a former student/client/kid who lets you know much later that you made a difference in his life. and i find that often (yes to serendipity) that it is exactly when we need reminding. it's all about giving and hoping and loving, isn't it? peace to you.

Becky Wolfe said...

Dave- very inspiring and hopeful. So often in life we may do things that we hope make a difference & often we never get the chance to know if they really do. How uplifting for you to meet this man & see that you indeed left a positive impression in his life!

Truly, how do you do a job like that without letting it take over emotionally? Hats off to you my friend!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

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Cheryl said...

I'm so glad you got that affirmation. It's kind of rare that we get to see the results of our work. I can tell that you're the kind of person that would make a difference in someone's life.

Jazz said...

Must feel great when you're a teacher and you see proof that you indeed do make a difference. Murphy obviously screwed up there, eh?

Odat said...

Come here from Lone Squirrel...to say hi..and read a bit...Great post ...like you said, you never know how and when you will touch someone's life...Nice!
Peace

CSL said...

Those moments may not come often, but when they do they are so validating. I'm glad you picked the coffee shop that morning.

Leann said...

How absolutely awesome!! That must make your job feel totally worth while.


I'm sure there are many more just like him.

abbagirl74 said...

You have such a tough job. I am glad we have people like you in this world. You are such a good role model.

montidogeo said...

I am so impressed. I couldn't do it.

Cheryl said...

Where are you Dave?

Janice Thomson said...

Hope all is well with you Dave...missing your delightful posts.

Ruth said...

we are worried...where are you?