Monday, May 6, 2013

If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher

For me, movies about great teachers rank closely behind movies about great coaches when it comes to inspiration and emotional investment (emotional investment = potential to make me cry). Mr. Holland's Opus. Good Will Hunting. Stand and Deliver. Few stories are more powerful than those written about children and young adults whose lives dramatically improve simply because a teacher cared enough to go above and beyond their responsibility to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic in the classroom. Today, to recognize Teacher Appreciation Week and in honor of all my teachers AND my children's teachers, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite quotations - the ones that remind me of the educators who've touched my life - from memorable movie and television teachers.

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society
"They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen. You hear it? Carpe - here it? Carpe, carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."

Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love
"I believe one should fight for what one believes, provided one is absolutely sure one is absolutely right."

Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver
"There will be no free rides, no excuses. You already have two strikes against you: your name and your complexion. Because of those two strikes, there are some people in this world who will assume that you know less than you do. Math is the great equalizer... When you go for a job, the person giving you that job will not want to hear your problems; ergo, neither do I. You're going to work harder here than you've ever worked anywhere else. And the only thing I ask from you is 'ganas'. Desire."

Richard Harris in Harry Potter
Dark times lie ahead of us, and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right."

Kyle Chandler in Friday Night Lights
A few of you have been here. A few of you have not. One thing we all have to do tonight, we've got to focus. The game plan, the fundamentals, gentlemen, moving the sticks, what we're going to be doing out there. And listen, fellas, there's a joy to this game, is there not? There's a passion. There's a reason why we're all out here. Other than the fact the pride that it gives us and the respect that it demands, we love to play the game, so let's go out there and have fun tonight. Do you understand? Because tomorrow, if you give 100 percent of yourself tonight, people are going to look at you differently. People are going to think of you differently. And I promise you, you're going to look and think differently about yourself. Clear eyes. Full hearts."

Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers
"I don't want excuses. I know what you're up against. We're all of us up against something. So you better make up your mind, because until you have the balls to look me straight in the eye and tell me this is all you deserve, I'm not letting you fail. Even if that means coming to your house every night until you finish the work. I see who you are. Do you understand me? I can see you. And you are not failing."

Boy Meets World
Mr. Feeny: "Believe in yourselves.  Dream.  Try.  Do good.
Topanga: "I will never forget you.  You were more of a father to me than my own dad."
Shawn: "You never game up on me.  Never once.  I'm not going to forget you.  You're the best person I know."
Eric: "I don't know what's going to happen to me.  But I know that I'm going to be a good person who cares about people.  And I blame you for that."
Cory: "You'll always be with us.  As long as we live, okay?"
Mr. Feeny: "I love you all.  Class dismissed."

Most of us were taught, at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade, by a Mr. Feeny. By a teacher who believed in us and taught us to dream big, try our hardest, and do good in the world. A teacher we'll never forget.

Perhaps today is the day you reach out to your Mr. Feeny and tell him or her that their love and support, at least in part, made you who you are today.

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