The ability to impact students is one of the special superpowers that all teachers possess. It can be used for good or evil. We can have extremely positive or extremely negative impacts on the lives of kids. The thing about impact is that it’s hard to measure. Most often our impact can’t be measured for years, long after our students leave our classrooms. Dave Burgess speaks about this very thing in his book, Teach Like a Pirate, Dave says that, “A teacher’s impact can only be measured through generations!” The story I’m about to share, proves just that…
My mother-in-law, Rosanne Prati, spent over 30 years teaching first and second grades. She retired about 4 years ago and started working at Hallmark just last year. On Saturday, I noticed that I had a voicemail from her. She told me to call her so she could tell me a teacher story that my father-in-law just didn’t fully understand. When I called her back she shared this story with me:
Yesterday I was at work and it was really busy. I noticed a lady at the register next to mine who looked familiar. I could tell that she was looking at me, too but couldn’t place me. Then I remembered that she was a former student of mine. So, I said, “Tammy! You don’t remember me do you?” The lady looked at me and quickly said, “Mrs. Prati!” I came around to the front of the register and gave her a hug. We didn’t have much time to talk, but she said, “I’ve always wanted to thank you for what you did for me. I’ve thought about you so much over the years.”
If the story ended there, it would probably have been plenty. To me, the thought of hearing those words from a student you taught 20 or 30 years ago would be music to any teacher’s ears, but this isn’t the end of the story. My mother-in-law went on to say:
I was so happy to see her and I wasn’t even really sure what I’d done for her. Then the next day I came in to work and there was a package and a card waiting for me. I opened the card, it was from Tammy.
Here is what it said:
She then read the message that Tammy wrote inside:
Upon hearing what she wrote, I instantly had chills. I could feel the impact that my mother-in-law had on her former student’s life coming alive in the words of that card. Proof! This is proof that our impact can’t be measured by test scores, can’t be measured by an SLO, but instead is measured by the way we make our students feel and how they live their lives years after being in our classrooms.
As we talked more about what had happened. Rosanne continued her story.
Later that day someone else came in to the store and said, “Mrs. Prati! You were my cousin Tammy’s teacher when she was in first grade. She told me she saw you here and that you had helped her at school one day when she had an accident. You gave her clean jogging pants and none of the kids ever found out that it had happened. She tried to find you on Facebook because she wanted you to see this post.”
The person then handed my mother-in-law her phone so she could read this:
Yesterday I went to get a couple things for Christmas and I got my Christmas gift in return! I stopped in The Hallmark store at the OV Mall with my daughter and this lady asked if it was me. A little confused (normal anymore) I said yes. It was Mrs. Prati! A teacher who helped a very shy scared little girl on several occasions (yes ME). She has always been in my heart throughout the years. When you think of someone with such a huge heart, caring personality and the patience of God...you get her. Over the last couple of years I have begun apologizing from my heart to several people that I've hurt or was mean to because I was a fool. She was always the mentor that I always thought of and wanted to be like. Thank You Mrs. Prati for being such an angel and making a positive difference in this girl's life! God Bless You! I couldn't find her on Facebook but I hope she gets to read this. I did leave her a special personalized "Forever Grateful" gift at her store that I hope she likes.
Our impact is real. What impact will we make today that may not be measured for years to come?
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.