Yesterday Steve was the speaker at the afternoon session of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association. Since I pay my dues to that association every year, the executive director, Bob Wagoner, invited me, too. It was a good thing I accepted the invitation (at Steve’s insistence) because I ended up with the remote to move his PowerPoint slides forward.
But to me the most interesting part was the lady who sat on the other side of Steve at the luncheon. She came by our table, looking for a single seat, and asked if she could take that one. As he introduced himself, she smiled and said, “Oh, I know you. I was in your class at NKU.”
He was shocked. Every person there was a retired teacher, including Donna. She had gone to NKU for her teaching degree, taught 32 years, and retired. She said, “Your class changed my life. I was always very shy, but you showed me that I could get up in front of people, and that’s when I realized I could be a teacher.”
Then she added, “When I saw the announcement in the monthly newsletter that you’d be speaking, I knew I had to come. I’m delighted that I get to sit with you.”
They had lovely conversation and I enjoyed the ladies beside me. All 400 in the audience were quite congenial, responsive, and appreciative of what he had to say. His title? “Never Stop Dancing.”
One of the stories he could have told was about a gentleman who approached him after a speech a couple of years ago. He said, “Your class changed my life.” Steve was quite flattered, but the man went on to say, “I met my wife in your class, and now we have five kids.” Hmmm. Not quite the kind of life-changing that Donna referred to.
Since I began teaching in 1965 at the age of 20, I can’t help but reflect on where my first fifth-graders might be now. They will be approaching retirement age or retired. I retired at age 55, and so could they.
One of the third-graders I had at Ruth Moyer School told me recently that she will be a grandmother soon. Since her daughter was born when she was 20 and the daughter is now 20, she is a very young grandmother. Nevertheless, my former third-graders are becoming grandparents! Wow! I get constant reminders of my many years on this earth. Best of all is actually knowing some of those students, seeing where they are now, and knowing that they are productive members of society.
Those “you changed my life” comments are what keep teachers, even retired ones, floating on air.