JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Wisdom for teachers from Saint Teresa
Most of what we learn in school we don't seem to remember until we take the ACT test and then it's often too late. We don't remember because all of that subject matter doesn't seem to be really important at the time.
In reality it is important but what may be even more important are the words of wisdom a teacher will drop on occasion that seem to stick with us throughout our life. These words of wisdom could be from a music teacher, a third grade teacher, a counselor, a history teacher or a coach, cook or a custodian.
It's been 20 years this month that Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa) passed away. In addition to being the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, she began as a schoolteacher in Albania where she taught history and geography for 15 years. If you had her as a teacher or if you worked for her in India, you would have encountered many words of wisdom from her. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if I repeated a few for you.
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were not there, I think the ocean would be less by missing that drop.
The DACA young people are 800,000 drops in the ocean. That 11th-grade boy who has not found success in 11 years of school and is thinking about quitting is a drop in the ocean. That sophomore in college who just can't seem to find the dollars to pay for his tuition so someday he can find a job in teaching is a drop in the ocean. Maybe you, too, feel that you are just a drop in the ocean.
All of us need to find self worth. Kids, especially, need to feel that they are worth something, that they are, yes, a drop in the ocean but, more important, a drop that makes all of the other drops in the ocean just a bit better. Sometimes this message does not come from home, or from the street, or from the church but it can from school and it can come from a teacher.
Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right where you are.
There is this one particular mobile home park I pass every day to and from town. Each time I look at it I say to myself, "Those people could use a little help." I often think of going overseas again to give some support to people in need but as Saint Teresa reminds us, there are Calcutta's right here in Beltrami County.
Your Calcutta may be a run down trailer park, a lonely neighbor, a homeless person, a sick friend, or a young person who might leave school early. We know where these Calcutta's are. What do you and I do about them? It's good to remind kids of their obligation to the Calcutta's in their own back yard.
If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
America has always been a great nation because we dared not forget that we belong to each other. We have viewed other countries as part of the whole and realize if they don't become great, we don't become great.
What made Saint Teresa so special was her regard for others, for the rich as well as the poor. She viewed everyone as equal. She realized that world peace is determined by our treatment of others. The world is one big family and we are all brothers and sisters. Kids should know this.
Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.
This is a great message for adults. We know of many hurting people and those hurting people may be in our own family. Are they getting the help they need? What if the United States spent more time helping our neighbors closest to us like Canada and Mexico and Central America and South America? What if every student in school identified a classmate that needed some help and made it a point to be their friend? Wouldn't that be a great assignment?
When we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, "How many good things have you done in your life?" rather he will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?'
Kids need to realize that it's not how much they make dollarwise in their life or how famous they may or may not become or what kind of car they drive that will determine their ultimate success. Saint Teresa reminds us that the really important things in life are measured in the quantity of love that we put into whatever we do. Saint Teresa helped thousands of people in her life and she showered each one with love. That's why she is a saint.
Kids will learn many things this year in school. They will not remember most things but they may remember some words of wisdom mentioned by a teacher that are not in the curriculum but which may help that student realize that he or she is more than just a drop in the ocean.
Riddle: Which are the stronger days of the week? (Saturday and Sunday. The rest are weekdays.) Everyday can be a strong day in school when teachers make it a point to drop some words of wisdom not in the textbook.