The Least of These
Throughout my life, I have been many things, but at the age of 50, I began a new career in teaching. I taught at both the high school and college level for about 25 years. One of the first untruths I learned was that being a teacher is powerful position; once I closed the door of the classroom, I was the tsar; I could do anything (within acceptable reason) that I desired.
The first truth I learned was that even though I had all the power, of the 25 beings in the classroom, on a scale of one to twenty-five, I was number 25. The students always came first in my classes. As most of my peers did, I spent hours after school grading and lesson prepping; but the thing I enjoyed most was working with the students for their success.
During my first year, a few of my male students asked if it was possible to form a military history club. I said yes; without asking permission to do so, we began this club meeting at 6:30 AM once a week. We looked at historic battles, studied the tactics, and then watch Hollywood films about it. By year two, there were so many involved, we began two mornings a week. By year three, there were boys and girls, and the days became three.
The club ran for over fourteen years; five students, including one girl, were accepted at one of the four military colleges; the girls was accepted at Annapolis and graduated third in her class. Another seven students received full ROTC scholarships. One male and one female, became combat Marine leaders.
Although this had to do with war, most of these students now have left the military and begun their own families.
I was also the debate team coordinator. During my third year of this, a parent came to me asking if their son could join the debate team. I said that I would welcome him; she then explained that he had a mild Asperger’s and found it difficult to speak. I learned from Charles for three years; he became the president of the club, and under his leadership, we got to the state finals in the Lincoln-Douglas competition. Upon graduating from college, he joined the IMF as a finance specialist.
The lesson I learned that first year was that as a teacher, I was the least among many. My students were my symphony. By submitting my abilities to their needs, my students were much more important than me in my classes.
This is why, when I think of the basics, to me the most important and the most fulfilling is being the least of these. By being the least of these, I was able to let my students shine. Being the least of these, I found my Love of God.