Choir Notes

A Teacher Affects All Eternity
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4328

Not long ago, lines at a mortuary grew long as scores of people came to pay respects. In fact, the line of people grew so long that it was moved outside the mortuary and down the street. Who was the person whose life had touched so many? She was not a VIP—at least, not by most standards; she was not rich or famous; she wasn’t a celebrity or a powerful business or political leader. She was a teacher: known and loved for touching the lives of countless elementary schoolchildren.

Is it surprising that a teacher in a midsize town would receive such an outpouring of love and support? Not to those children and their parents! Good teachers make such a difference: they can touch hearts and change lives as no one else can.

When legendary coach John Wooden spoke of his final basketball game, he referred to it as "the last game [he] ever taught.” A coach, he explained, is first and foremost a teacher. He felt it was his responsibility not only to improve his players’ athletic skills but also to help them become better people. And he did just that. Thousands of players and fans continue to benefit from Coach Wooden’s influence—an influence they measure more by the values he taught than by the games he won.1

What is true of coaches can be true of all of us. We can all be involved in the work of teaching. Parents and family are the most important teachers. Neighbors and friends can be teachers. Managers, leaders, and colleagues can all be teachers—extending the legacy of good teaching infinitely into the future. Over a century ago, noted historian and journalist Henry Adams observed something that remains true today: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”2
1 See Michael Josephson, "Parents Are Teachers First,” What Will Matter, May 23, 2012, http://whatwillmatter.com/2012/05/commentary-776-4-parents-are-teachers-first.
2 The Education of Henry Adams (1918), 300.

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