Think back to when you were very young. Can you name an adult outside of your immediate family who treated you like you were older? Do you remember what it was like to have a conversation with that person? Do you remember that person listening to you with such curiosity, like your words and thoughts had incredible value, even at such a young age? What did it feel like to be valued like that?
Today I honor my Uncle Cliff, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 90 years. Cliff McMann was part of the Greatest Generation, he fought in WWII aboard a submarine. In 1950, he began his 40 years of service as a civil engineer. Civil engineers are responsible for creating, improving, and protecting a community – they plan and build the structures a community needs to function and thrive.
Did you get the privilege to work for money when you were growing up? I did! I delivered papers as a young kid and one of my favorite customers happened to be my Uncle Cliff who lived a couple of streets down from us. He would sometimes invite me into his house for a snack, drink, or an extra quarter. He would ask the best questions. He would really, really listen to me. I always left feeling older than I really was. One thing he always let me do was study his giant map. This map had pins for all of the places he and his wife Marie had visited. In their 63 years of marriage, they had visited so many places! At my young age, I had only been out of the state a couple of times, but he had me dreamin!
One quality I admire in some really effective teachers is their is ability to give space for students to dream and grow. Students are treated as older and more capable than they may have ever experienced. Because of this, they take more risks and start to dream more. These teachers see their students as what they will become, much like my Uncle Cliff did for me.
Excellent teachers facilitate a community, using team-building tools so that they, like a civil engineer, can create, improve, and protect the community in which their students live each school day.
Like my Uncle, I have a map in my office with pins. I keep track of the communities in which I’ve served in my work with schools across the country. Over the years, there are MANY pins! The second I see the pin, I immediately recall the school and experience.
When I see the letters M-A-P for map, it can stand for “My Appointed Place” for which to accomplish “My Assigned Purpose.” When I travel for a school visit, I use the GPS! When I see those letters, I don’t see “Global Positioning System” – it’s not just giving directions to an appointed place, it’s signaling what I’m to do. In my book, GPS stands for– “Go Plant Seeds”.
THANK YOU to all those who serve younger children, whether as a mentor, educator, or as a family member who seizes the moment to give a little extra. The seeds you plant now WILL bloom later!