Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back." - Written by Mitch Albom in Tuesdays with Morrie, one of the greatest stories ever told.
To answer the two questions in that paragraph...I have had a teacher that could make unpolished students shine.
My experience began freshman year at Uniontown High. Fortunately for me, it lasted all four years of high school and continues today. This special teacher technically taught history and social sciences but I recall that all of his courses revolved around the most important of subject matters. His classes offered tidbits on life and how to live it as a quality individual. He taught how to grab it by the reins, make it do things for you that nobody expected, and then affect it so that society might reap the benefits.
I learned more about life in those classes than any other courses combined.
He has the skill that is hard to find in teachers these days. He finds ways to reach out and touch the hearts of his students and make each believe he or she is equal and has the ability to accomplish dreams and alter lives. He expects the very best out of his students and, more often than not, gets more than their very best. His students desire to be better than their very best. Not many high school students look forward to school. I always looked forward to his classes, and I know many of my classmates did as well.
On Friday my wife and I drove to Emporia to be part of a special honor for the five best teachers in the nation. The National Teachers Hall of Fame has inducted 80 teachers into his hallowed halls in the past 16 years. Of those 80, five were inducted this year. Of those five, he was one of this year's inductees. While the attention of the evening wasn't centered on any one individual, it was obvious that he stole the show with his touching speech and video. As I listened to him speak chills ran through me. Those chills took me back to my high school days and reminded me of the same chills I often felt in class when he spoke of a story of success or inspired us all to be better citizens.
His name is Norm Conard and I am proud to be his student.