One of my sons-in-law, Jodie, called me on a hot August day six years ago. He was the principal of a school which had bused it's faculty to an off-site retreat to partake in the exceptional learning program called Capturing Kids' Hearts.
Jodie called me during the noon hour that day and told me that he simply had to share with me an experience from his morning. His voice was breaking already as he described the morning's events.
The retreat facilitators had divided the participants (from many districts) into groups of 15-20. The charge was to think of an educator who had had a profound impact on their lives and to share with the group the nature of that impact. Not surprisingly, those testimonials were inspiring and laden with emotion.
Jodie happened to be in the group with the kindergarten teacher he had hired just weeks earlier (I'll call her Kay). As each member of the group related how a committed educator had touched their lives deeply, it came time for Kay to share her story.
Kay related how a primary grade teacher in her life had had such a profound influence on her that she knew she wanted to become a teacher some day, even at that young age. Jodie began to connect the dots and realized that Kay was talking about Moe (my lovely bride of 37 years). Jodie began to see that the impact of Moe (now his mother-in-law) had spawned a next generation educator, whom he had deemed remarkable enough to hire for his own campus.
Furthermore, the reality that Kay would be teaching Jodie's own daughter (the granddaughter of Moe) began to sink in for Jodie. Of course, Moe had no idea when she was teaching Kay some 20 years earlier that she might be laying the foundation for the education of her own grandchildren. But, she was.
As Jodie shared this story with me during that mid-day phone call, I broke down crying, right along with him. The phenomenon of circular influence was being profoundly impressed upon us.
I have often heard it said that "teachers touch the future" through the children they serve. Rarely has that lesson been driven home for me in such a profound and emotional way.
I have been blessed to work with a multitude of Moe-like teachers over 35 years. Indeed, they have, and are, and will continue, to touch the future. Lucky kids, lucky parents, lucky world.