“A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops” ~ Henry Adams
I started reading Tuesdays With Morrie and the previous quote stood out to me due to the work that many of us are called to for the year. For those who haven’t read this book, it is a touching and endearing tale about Mitch Albom, the author, and the Tuesdays he spent for months with his old college professor who had limited time left on this earth. It is a fantastic read that offers many life lessons, but this blog entry is not meant to be a book review. It is meant to explore how teachers truly affect for an eternity and not just the years that they teach the same students. I came to see this when I started to help teach the AP Calculus class at La Salle Academy this year. The class only consists of 10 students, which makes it easy to give each student that individualized attention they may need. As I stand up in the front of the room going over each section, I try to make sure that the students fully understand each part of the process before moving on. There are times when I have to come up with different analogies to explain the concept of taking integrals and finding the volume. Each time I make a new analogy I think back to the one teacher that first taught me everything I knew about calculus.
This brings me back to my high school days as I sat in the front row while Mr. Schmitz taught us and helped us to prepare for the AP Exam. He had to cover certain concepts over and over again just to make sure we fully understood it all. Sometimes it would take the whole period to go over just one problem, but he never gave up on the class. I think of this as I now teach the class everyday and see how even when we graduate as students and go on to adulthood, teachers truly stay with us. We rely on what they have taught us not just in the classroom but also other lessons such as patience and ingenuity that may not be listed in the course syllabus. These lessons have truly helped me to be a great teacher to the class this year and influence them as much as teachers in my past have done for me.
Through teaching this year, I have also come to the realization that is it not only the teachers that can affect eternity in a teacher-student association. I have come to see that even though this is a limited opportunity for me, the students I interact with will always affect me throughout my life even if I don’t plan on continuing in the teaching field. I have had the pleasure of helping students in after-school activities along with in the classroom, and they have helped me to grow as an educator. Talking to past and current Lasallian Volunteers about their experience always leads to stories about their students and how they may have done something funny that day or how they accomplished a goal they set for the year. It is uplifting to hear this from many because this is why many of us have to decided to join this giving program. I know that my experience here will help me in the future when interacting with students. New students come in every year. Some of our favorite ones leave, but what does stay with us is the lessons we learn every year. Ultimately, it is not just the teachers that affect eternity, but the students affect us too even if it may seem that we are their main source for help and guidance.
Ron Jovi Ramirez is a first year LV serving at La Salle Academy in New York, New York and a 2013 graduate of Lewis University.