What’s your story? Who helped you connect with your dream? Who encouraged you to develop your talent?
Email us at: info@KidsFiveAndOver.org and share your story. With your permission, we’ll include it on our website.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears. I have heard this often and it comes to mind when I think of my father who was always mentoring in ways I never noticed. A mentor teaches you something about your studies, your hobby, your career or even the way you live your life - mentors guide you into a better understanding of and better way to do something. My father was a mentor to me long before I noticed. He looked for the good in everything and always seemed content with whatever he happened to have. He found joy in the smallest things… a meander through the woods naming the birds and trees, a closer look at whatever caught his attention, the casserole he created from a bizarre array of leftovers, a foolish joke, chatting in the kitchen, guessing at the winning lottery numbers but not necessarily buying a ticket. I can remember asking him once what he would do if he actually won Megabucks. He thought for a minute and said that he would probably get a new pair of shoes. I think I was in my 20’s before I realized that he chose happiness every day. No matter what the situation, you decide your reaction to it and set your course accordingly. I have still not been able to completely control my reactions, but as I get older, I find myself choosing the silver lining more and more often. I find myself paying closer attention throughout the day to the little things and the small moments that truly make life worth living. Without my father’s example, I would still be completely shut off, not watching, not paying attention and missing everything! My father’s ability of finding joy and being grateful for the “smallest” things in life has turned out to be one of the “biggest” gifts I’ve ever received.
A Heartfelt Homerun
Sometimes in life, if you’re feeling low or weak, or if you’re in your darkest hour, people can come in and give you happiness, friendship, and love. These can all be given in big obvious outbursts, or they can be done in little tidbits, or just small ways that secretly make you feel happy or loved.
When things at home weren’t going so well, my parents had just gotten divorced, we had just given our dog away due to an illness, my single mother of four was working three jobs and still struggling to put food on the table; that is when somebody came into my life and had an impact like no other, that will affect me for the rest of my life.
Scott and his son pulled into our shared driveway and started unloading their things. I didn’t know it at the time, but a friendship; a love was going to form that would carry on into my life until the day I died.
It took me a couple of days-- finally, as they were unloading some things, I introduced myself. They were so caring and compassionate, and they still are to this day. They did things like take me out to dinner, bring me on trips with them; they even got me a nice pair of basketball shoes for the upcoming season. Now all of those things are great and made me happy and showed me love, but money and getting spoiled isn’t all our friendship is. It is deeper, and has more meaning than just presents.
Little League majors—Scott was one of our coaches. I’ll be honest with you, up to that point… I sucked. I was averaging about one hit a season. No coaches had ever shown me how to hit. I batted how I had always batted, how I had taught myself. My Dad didn’t bother to show me; my coaches all thought I was a lost cause, but not Scott. He took me under his wing. In his free time he was teaching me how to swing a baseball bat. Until one game I finally hit a homerun, and as I was rounding the bases I looked at him and smiled. He had taught me the fundamentals-- he had demonstrated not only how to hit the ball, but also how to be a man.
Ever since that season I have always looked up to Scott he had shown me a love that I had never had before. I gave him my trust, and he gave me his. In my life, if I can be just HALF the man that Scott is, well I’ll be pretty damn happy about that.
My fourth grade teacher, Miss Tobias, did something simple yet extremely meaningful for me as a not-so-sure of myself kid.
I loved to write stories and poetry when I finished my work in class. She not only allowed me time to enjoy my creative outlet, but actually encouraged it. I would write feverishly then go to her desk to show her my story. She would always take my story, walk to the front of the room, call the class to attention, and give me "the floor." I was given the time to read my stories to the class every time I completed one. My story times became part of Room 24 curriculum. I was given question and answer periods, ovations, and freedom to design and illustrate a bulletin board with my work.
Miss Tobias helped me to discover that I had a talent worth developing, and that I mattered. As my classmates "nagged" me for another story, I felt a confidence that I hadn't yet experienced in my life. Now, as a literacy and art teacher, I often try to follow her example. When something I wrote was published for the first time, I realized that Miss Tobias was instrumental in that experience for me. She was a true mentor in my life.
Thank You, Miss Rogers
I am seventy-three years old and graduated high school almost 55 years ago.
When I think of the people who influenced my life, one teacher's name always comes to mind: Miss Rogers.
Miss Rogers was my teacher all four years in high school. She had long, brown hair that she wore in a bun. She was the epitome of a 1950’s teacher. She expected perfection and held her students accountable for mistakes made. She was tough, but on the inside she was kind and understanding.
Even though my grades were excellent, my family had no resources to pay for a college education; therefore, I enrolled in the high school business courses and Miss Rogers taught all the subjects required for getting a decent job after graduation - typing, shorthand, bookkeeping & office practice.
Through my work on the school yearbook, she taught me how to persevere and feel pride in my accomplishments.
As editor of the school newspaper, I remember the long hours it took after school to prepare articles for publication and how she would take us to a favorite local eatery for hamburgers when our work was done.
She saw qualities in me that I didn't see in myself.
She believed in me and that helped me to believe in myself.
She taught me the importance of giving back through opportunity, support and guidance.
Every year local companies contacted her looking for qualified students to work for them. I was one of the lucky ones to be offered a job for a well-known insurance company upon graduation - thanks to Miss Rogers’ recommendation.
Several years after graduation, I attended her retirement party. She had taught hundreds of students over 50 years, but she still remembered me much in the same way I remembered her. She called me by name and said, "I remember you. You were one of my best students!”
And now, almost 55 years later, I write this tribute to her and say, “I still remember you. You were one of my favorite teachers!”
Thank you, Miles!
One day when I was about ten years old, I was climbing in a tree in our neighbor’s yard when I came across a large rock tied to a string and hanging from one of the branches. As a ten year old, what was I supposed to do, just leave it? Being curious by nature, I decided to cut the rope. All of a sudden, down came the rock and down came the wire antenna being suspended by the rock, and out came our neighbor, Miles Weeks, to investigate what had happened.
As it turned out, a dipole wire antenna was being held in place by the rock. Miles was a very kind man nad he proceeded to explain to me how a dipole antenna was part of his Amateur radio outfit. He taught me how someone could talk to other amateurs around the world. He introduced me to a hobby that has been a part of my life for more than 79 years.
Thank you, Miles!