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Teachers make a difference

Saturday, December 8, 2007

An example of the impact that teachers make is shared in "Mentors, Masters and Mrs. McGregor:"

"I had been a high school dropout at the age of 17, and finally I decided to go back to school to finish my high school diploma. The following September, I found out that community college was free. So I thought, "I'll try it," because college had always been a dream, and I didn't think I'd ever, ever get there.

"The first teacher I bumped into was an English teacher by the name of Ralph Hansen. He had the kind of rapport with people that automatically created an "I can" attitude that his students would adopt.

"I was scared. I was a 26-year-old wife and mother who had returned to school and I just knew that those youngsters would be much more intelligent and much more capable. In the middle of a class one day, as we were all preparing to study for a big exam, he said to the entire class, 'Listen, if you really want to pass this test, I would suggest you form study groups. If I were you, I would make sure that Mrs. Redenbach is one of the members of your group.' I looked at him and said, 'Why?'

"In front of the entire class he said, 'The reason I say that is that I'm sure that one of these days you will be a gifted teacher.' I said to him, 'Don't be ridiculous. I don't even like teachers.' And he said, 'Someday, you'll not only like teachers, but you'll be a great one.'

"And three years later, when I graduated from the university, they asked me what I wanted to do for graduate study. I thought about Ralph Hansen and I quietly said, 'I want to be a teacher.'

"Mr. Hansen is now deceased, but each time I stand up in front of my own classroom, I watch myself from afar and I see his habits of leaning close to students and looking into their eyes as he asks them questions. There's a sense of hopefulness and a sense of assurance that they'll have the answers, that they'll have taken responsibility for studying, that they can really be everything they can be. And just as sure as I'm alive, he's still alive in the work that he has invested in me."

Dick Hedges
Fort Scott Community College