Doug Creamer: Our impact, our legacy
About once a month a group of retired teachers gathers in Stanly County for lunch. I taught at North Stanly and South Stanly for about eight years of my career. Somehow when this group meets, I get an invite to join them. Retirement has some benefits.
When I taught in Stanly County I was young and energetic, but I was green. I had one bit of wisdom in my youth: find those who are excellent in their field and hang around them. Learn and glean everything you can from them. I did that. I found the best teachers, the ones with the best reputations, and spent time with them.
One of the most important things I learned early in life was to always do my best on the job. It doesn’t matter if the boss is watching, do your best. Later in my career, I had a principal tell me that she didn’t need to formally observe me to know if I was doing my job. She said that all she had to do is walk past my door and she always saw me engaging with my students.
The retired teachers met for lunch last week. Two things struck me about the conversation around that table. The first was when the thought circulated that they felt they could not teach and engage students today. I looked at them and said, “No, you would still be great. Students today still need the same things you gave them when you were in the classroom. They want to be noticed. They need to be loved. They want to be encouraged to pursue their dreams. They want to be challenged to raise the bar. They want people who believe in them and have hope for their future.”
I agreed that today’s students have many more distractions. I agreed that the educational system seems overly focused on testing. I agreed that the individual freedoms that teachers once had have evaporated. But I still believed that these great teachers could still have an impact on the next generation.
The other thing that impacted me as I listened to them talk was how powerfully teachers had impacted their lives. They were discussing various Catawba College professors. They remembered details about their college teachers that impacted and changed their lives. They remembered specific assignments they completed. They remembered certain tests and even specific questions from those tests.
As I sat and listened I began to wonder how many of our students have the same memories about us. Do our students remember tests or certain activities we did in class? Did the things I said or did have lasting impacts on my students? Do students reflect on what we did in my room like these teachers were remembering their college professors?
I have run into former students through the years, and they always have stories about things that happened in my room. Most of the memories are of something funny. They all remember the Golden Rule of Business: Treat every customer the way you would want to be treated if you were the customer. It was the last question on every test.
I hope I impacted my students with the most important thing of all, God’s love. I know that I am an imperfect person, but I hope that in spite of that, God’s love showed through my life. What we become in life is nowhere near as important as who we become. I wanted to help my students develop high moral standards, learning how to choose right from wrong, seeing the impact of doing good deeds, and how a kind and encouraging word can change someone’s day.
THE most important thing in life is having faith in God. We will all stand before His throne and have to answer for our lives. The key question will be: Did you ask Jesus to be your Savior? If the answer is no, all the good things you have done in your life will not change your destination. We also have to live for Jesus. Is your life a reflection of His love?
I want to encourage you to make the most important decision in your life today. Ask Jesus to be your Savior. No one knows if today will bring a tragic ending to your life. Don’t put this critical decision off. You may not get a moment right before you pass to ask Him into your life. Ask now and live for Him every day. Who knows what kind of legacy you can leave behind if you make the choice to follow Jesus?
Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org