The actor, Morgan Freeman in the movie Lean on Me inspired me to become a teacher in an urban school. The true story of how one man in Patterson, New Jersey could transform chaos into harmony stirred me to action. I saw the way he interacted with his students. They admired and respected him. He adhered to his principles and was persistent in his cause to dramatically alter the environment of the school.
There is a well known saying within the teaching community, “If you can impact one child in a positive manner then you will be successful”. I never liked that saying because one was never enough for me. If you impact one, what about the other hundred or so a year you come in contact with, they don’t matter? One was such a small number in comparison to my large ambitions. I was drawn to the idea of making a difference as many other idealists like myself when I first started teaching.
I thought I could change my environment, but in the end my environment changed me. I entered the teaching profession seeking a challenge. I was confident that I had the strength and determination for the undertaking. How I left years later with some semblance of sanity is beyond my comprehension. Most of the time, I just felt like I was treading water trying desperately to keep from drowning. Did I accomplish the objective I set out to? I will never know, but I certainly learned a great deal of lessons along the way.