98: A Greater Purpose

98: A Greater Purpose

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales

A Greater Purpose

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work.
It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.

~Jacques Barzun

A former student, who is now a teacher at my high school, walked by me in the hall this afternoon and said with a smile, “Ms. H, I know you love our word of the week. I heard it on the announcements this morning and I immediately thought of you.” I replied, “Thank you Pharen; that pleases me.” She went on to say, “I always remember you talking to me about integrity and character and how important they were.” I thanked her again and she continued on down the hallway.

As I reflect on this interaction, it brings a smile to my face. Of the many words that she could associate with me, the fact that she associated the word “integrity” is an important testimony to my influence as an educator. I believe that she associated the idea of honesty and moral and ethical character with me because of the example I have set with my life. I am far from perfect but I have chosen to make a conscious effort to live a life of integrity in my classroom, in my home and in my community.

Pharen did not pursue a degree in science—the discipline area that I teach—but I am happy to think that I have served to improve her life by what I taught her. I believe that the subject matter I taught has improved her life but I know that the life lessons will pay into eternity.

This scenario served to remind me today of my greater purpose in teaching school. It calls to mind a favorite scripture from Galatians 6:9—“Let us not grow weary in doing good for at the right time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.”

I am thankful for a reminder today—when it seems that no one is “getting it”—that the important lessons are being caught and taught if I just keep “doing the right thing.”

~Chantelle Herchenhahn
2009 Mississippi State Teacher of the Year
Science teacher, grades 9-12

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