In this blog, I continue to share about encounters that have influenced me…
Mrs. Douglas—I would love to tell you her first name, but I was so intimidated by her that I never asked. Mrs. Douglas was my English literature teacher in high school. To this day, I still consider her the most difficult teacher I have ever had. I was scared of her before I entered her class as a junior. I knew from some friends who were seniors that even good students often struggled under her teaching, and she had a rasp to her voice that rivaled any I heard on The Godfather. Maybe that is the reason I worked so hard.
I remember the day that changed my feelings about Mrs. Douglas. We had been given a reading assignment for homework the night before. We all knew that we would discuss in class the meaning behind the reading and our interpretation. My goal during class discussions was to become invisible. It usually worked but not today. Not only did she request my interpretation, but she also asked me to stand before the class and read a portion of the assignment. You may find this hard to believe now, but I was terrified to speak in class, let alone in front of the class.
I have no idea what I read, but I get emotional even now thinking about what happened next. When I finished, I turned to her to make sure it was okay to return to my seat, and she was looking at me. It was not the look of, Thank you. Go sit down. It was a look she had never given me. After what seemed like an eternity, she simply said, “That was beautiful. You have a gift.”
I don’t remember the rest of class. When the bell rang and we all got up to exit, she called me over to her desk. I was still beaming on the inside. She asked me to sit down and told me that she knew what students said about her and that she was indeed tough. She explained that she was tough on some students because of their attitude, but she wanted me to know that from that day forward she would be tough on me because of my potential. To this day, she is the best teacher I have ever had.
1. Words are powerful. Telling others, you believe in them could make their day and maybe even change their life. It did mine.
2. It is okay to demand much from others, as long as you are doing so to grow their confidence and fulfill their potential.
3. There is power in standing before an audience.