Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Gift of Teaching

Teaching is an exchange of gifts. Teachers share experience, knowledge, and skills with their students and students share their success with their teachers. One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is sharing in the pride and joy students feel when they accomplish the goals they have set for themselves. Students are eager to return and show you how successful they have been. I believe most teachers take more pride in what their student’s accomplishments than their own. Because you have an opportunity to participate in the success of many students, your investment in them is returned with compound interest. You will accomplish far more through the compound effort of your students than you could ever do by yourself. One of the most rewarding experiences is watching someone transform their lives and being there to help along the way.

In Georgia adult education is tied to the Technical College System. We help people who did not graduate from high school study for and obtain their GED. The state offers students who earn their GED a $500 scholarship to attend a Technical College program. Once they are accepted in a technical diploma program like Air Conditioning Technology, most Georgia residents qualify for a HOPE Grant which pays their tuition and fees. Several years ago I had a student take advantage of this series of incentives. He is a single parent who was earning a living cleaning a local McDonalds at night. He paid a babysitter to stay with his daughter while he worked at night. Although he was very bright, motivated and a hard worker, he lacked even a high school diploma. He came to Athens Tech and earned his GED. The state tempted him with the $500 scholarship and he started the Air Conditioning Technology program. So now he was a single parent working at night and attending school during the day. However, because of his initiative he quickly began to put his investment in school to work by fixing things in the restaurant at night after cleaning up. His employers noticed. He was offered a job in maintenance during the day. He continued to do well. Now he is head over all the facilities maintenance at all the McDonalds in our area, drives a company truck, and earns an impressive salary. He comes by school every now and then and I sometimes see him when I visit the McDonalds down the road from school. And his daughter, the little girl who he had to pay a baby sitter to watch while he scrubbed floors at night, well she is now also an Athens Tech alum. Sometimes we get it right. Merry Christmas to all of you. In the new year I hope you are busy sowing the seeds of success and watching them flourish.

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