My essay, “Leading and Following: A Perspective on Teaching and Learning” appears in Teaching Transformation: Progressive Education in Action, edited by Lise Weil and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg with an introduction by Elizabeth K. Minnich. This book, published by the Goddard Graduate Institute (GGI), is a collaborative project between GGI faculty, students, and alumni.
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When I attended the Launch Your Business Boot Camp in Atlanta (see my May 16 blog post), I had many wonderful encounters. The most amazing one came when a young woman let me know how I impacted her life.
Several years ago, I was an admissions officer for a private secondary school. One of my responsibilities was to talk with students of color about their educational options. This woman remembered me from a visit to her NYC middle school. She told me that visiting secondary schools changed her life, as did attending the school that she chose (not the one I recruited for). I was amazed that she remembered me, including my name, after so many years. That brief encounter broadened her perspectives and led to personal and professional paths she may not have chosen if it hadn’t happened.
You never know how actions that you take for granted impact others. I have been an educator for many years. I sometimes run into students who tell me that lessons I taught, readings I assigned, or conversations we had clarified their understanding of themselves or their purpose in life. I am grateful for such revelations and humbled because I know that I did not seek to make an impact. If there was any seeking at all, it was to connect, to communicate.
Like most people, I wonder what it would mean to make a big splash or grand gesture that transforms people’s lives. Meeting the young woman in Atlanta reminded me that in our everyday encounters we touch others in meaningful and unexpected ways. No splashing. No grandiosity. Just everyday amazing.