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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Finding the guru

April 01, 2011|By Joe Puglia

Sabine seemed concerned as we left for the recent Open House at LCHS. “Daddy! Don’t embarrass me!”

After 13 years of fatherhood, I’m now an embarrassment. It’s a reputation that’s most deserved.

We arrived on campus and found a kaleidoscope of muses and soothsayers. It was a surreal world defined by silent statues of kids who came alive by an awkward prompt and proceeded to recite the prose and thoughts of history’s illustrious thinkers.

Open House afforded me the opportunity to ascribe a face to the teachers my children continuously speak of. I have a deep reverence for teachers. The phase “You're the wind beneath my wings,” most assuredly reflects the influence of a teacher. Teachers are critical to society. Their efforts affect the fate of the world, which is influenced by the children who sit in their classrooms. We never know where this influence will stop.

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Teaching is an art and occurs through mindful intention. It’s the result of skillful execution, sincere effort, intelligent direction, high intention and sincere effort. Teaching is not melodramatic delivery, but rather is defined by a teacher's moral investment of concern and loving delight. The alchemy of these interventions can often change a life.

It’s the teacher who helps students realize their promise and where that promise lies. A teacher believes in you and tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick.

What speaks to me regarding teaching is the opportunity to leave a remnant of oneself in the development of another. Whether it’s a smile, a favorite witticism or a stern rebuke, effective teachers leave a vestige of their ways on the blank slates of their students. There’s an old Buddhist Proverb, “When the student is ready, the master appears.”

I am moved by the influence that Mr. Morgan Savage, Simone’s seventh-grade math teache, has recently had upon her moral development. Because of a series of misconducts, Mr. Savage confronted his class with an extemporaneous discourse regarding appropriate behavior, which he defined as having a moral compass. Simone returned from school that evening and quoted him verbatim. He touched a chord within her.

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