I'm writing this post about an hour before my University of Virginia Cavaliers take the court for their opening game in this year's NCAA basketball tournament. This has been a dream season for the Cavs, and their incredibly successful regular season pretty much come out of nowhere. In fact, the team only started receiving national attention about a month or two ago after flying under the radar for most of the season. I caught my first glimpse of the team a few weeks ago when we were hosting highly-rated Syracuse and pulled off an impressive upset win. As I watched the action, I was taken aback when the announcer mentioned the name of UVA's first-year guard, London Perrantes.
London was a student in my third grade class ten years ago in Santa Monica, CA, and I was thrilled to discover that he had made it to the highest level of college basketball. I was even more excited that he was playing for my alma mater. Small world.
I was so impressed with London's poise and leadership that I wanted to contact him. After searching for him on Twitter, I actually found his father and sent him a message congratulating him on his son's terrific first year. He immediately responded by thanking me for encouraging his son to be a leader and nurturing the leadership potential I saw in him at the time.
This wonderful exchange of messages reminded me that teachers encourage children in a variety of ways all the time. We don't, however, always get to see the results of these efforts. We may, for example, have encouraged a struggling 4th grader to take school more seriously, yet have no idea that the same child became an A-student in high school. We plant seeds. That's what we do. Sometimes we see them grow into something special; other times we don't. In this case I was fortunate to see a former student blossom in a very public forum, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be a small contributing factor to that success.
My main point with this post is to encourage you to keep planting seeds with your students. Encourage them to be leaders, readers, writers, musicians, and painters. These efforts pay off. We may not always be able to observe the fruits of our labor, and that can be frustrating at times, but the effort is worth it. Be on the lookout for the positive traits and aptitudes your students show and find the time to acknowledge these assets privately. When enough people provide enough support and encouragement to children, great things can happen.