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Self Development

Teachers Are Awesome

books stacked on a teacher's desk

4 Minute Read

I flunked second grade because I couldn’t read.

I had a wonderful first grade teacher, but the poor lady in second grade was in her first year out of college and got destroyed by us, a room full of crazy hillbilly kids.

She quit. She kept coming to class and collecting a check, but she quit. And at the end of the year, she really quit. I think we ruined her dream. You might say she flunked second grade too. I often think of her and feel bad for her.

At the end of the year, some kind of high-level World Peace Conference took place in the principal’s office behind closed doors. This G8 gathering apparently included my mother, Principal Evelyn Hyde and Mrs. Mary Jane Hurt, one of the third grade teachers at Haywood Elementary.

I have no idea what magic was spun or threats were laid down, but for reasons I will never know, they put me in the third grade in Mrs. Mary Jane Hurt’s class, reading on a first grade level. She saved my life.

Teachers are Awesome.

There are two kinds of folks that have most impacted my life: Teachers and Pastors. Among both groups there are some that just mail it in every week, and there are certainly some bad eggs in each group.

But the real Teachers change the world. The real Teachers can’t leave a child behind. They simply won’t quit on you. They make you do things and learn things you never thought you could. They believe in you, especially when you don’t believe in yourself. They change the trajectory of your life.

We had a bunch of friends over the other night for dinner. The people sitting around the table were (and are) well-accomplished folks. Successful business people, music people, pastors, moms, dads, and grandparents. The conversation starter was posed, “Name a Teacher who impacted your life.”

No one could name only one. All of us laughed, got real, told of failures, and ALL of us had several Teachers’ names on our lips and deep in our hearts. Everyone spoke in detailed, color pictures of events that were 30-40 years ago.

Teachers are Awesome.

By the time I finished third grade, a miracle had occurred. I was reading on a fourth grade level. Mrs. Mary Jane Hurt had worked a miracle, but that is what she did every year. She was a miracle worker—teaching hyperactive third graders to not only behave, but to actually learn.

And just like in a professional wrestling match, she tagged the next one into the ring, Mrs. Pratt. These two were a one-two punch a kid like me needed, and by the end of the fourth grade, I was reading on the sixth grade level.

I developed a love of reading and spent the whole year in the library reading every book they would let me check out. I have read almost every day for the 50 years since I flunked second grade.

I had the honor of making a donation to restock and rebuild that library a few years ago. We renamed it The Evelyn Hyde Library at Haywood Elementary in honor of our principal who conducted that World Peace G8 Conference in her office all those years ago.

Principals that let Teachers work miracles are Awesome too.

When I am introduced these days as an “author of seven #1 best sellers, selling almost 20 million copies,” I often think of Mrs. Mary Jane Hurt, Mrs. Pratt, and Ms. Hyde. They changed my life.

Teachers are Awesome.

You should tell one in your past that they changed your life.