Good news

I was a horrible student in high school, and prided myself on never taking home a book, which earned me the distinction of graduating at the bottom of my class. When I was in my twenties, I realized that I wanted an education, but had serious doubts about my abilities/intellect. I considered myself to be a poor student (which I certainly was), but didn’t know if this was just because I wasn’t smart, or because I never tried. By this time, I also had 2 small children at home.

During my second semester at a community college, I became friends with my Chemistry professor. She and I were about the same age, and occasionally went out for a drink (more about this part of my story at a later time!) after class with a few other students. One evening during casual conversation, she asked me how I was doing in my other classes. I said, “I’ve gotten mostly B’s”. She then looked me in the eyes and said, “That is not good enough for you.”

This woman, who had a master’s degree and was teaching at the community college level, saw me as an A student?! My life changed in that moment. I started studying like my life depended on it. Shortly thereafter, I transferred my credits to a University, graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, received a full scholarship to graduate school (to study Economics…this is a long story!) and eventually was accepted at Harvard Divinity School.

It was almost 30 years ago that Martha (I cannot remember her last name) said those words to me. I don’t remember much about Chemistry; what she had to teach me didn’t have anything to do with that. She saw something in me that I hadn’t yet recognized, and had the courage to say it. We are all teachers in this incredible classroom of life. Our words matter…more than we can ever know. Thank you Martha!

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!” Anne Frank

24 thoughts on “Good news”

  1. Funny how perception is everything…I always thought you were one of the really smart ones that always got good grades! And obviosly you are a smart one! Even though I never saw your grades, your ora said you were smart. One day after reading your blog to my husband, I told him where you lived when we were growing up….and that you were one of the smart ones! It really did show!

  2. Great story Mary! Those who light our inner flame are truly the best teachers…the best leaders. Thank you for lighting my inner flame every morning! I am deeply grateful. Happy Thanksgiving to all and safe and warm travel.

  3. What a wonderful story, Mary. A good Thanksgiving story! I’m sending out my thanksgiving to you Mary and all of the white feather flock. I’m so glad the universe conspired to bring us together.

  4. What Martha saw in you all those years ago, I can’t imagine anyone not seeing in you now. After you recognized it, you brought it to life. I’m grateful for the people who can see inside and shed light on what we might otherwise miss. Happy Thanksgiving, Mary and all.

  5. Good Morning, Mary. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Jack, and all who read this blog. This morning’s post popped out at me with neon lights!!! My friend and fellow teacher, Martha, who I’ve mentioned before for her words of wisdom, would meet me at Barnes & Noble (in Fla. -). We’d share coffee, conversation, and teaching stories. We would have met for drinks like you & your Martha, but…. that’s a story for another time. Thanks, Mary, for reminding me of my dear friend who whispers words of wisdom from her heaven to my earth-bound soul.
    Every Mary needs a Martha in her life.

  6. Hi to all, and a most blessed Thanksgiving to you, Mary and Jack, your furry tribe and to all of our “feather” flock.

    I love the fact that you had someone in your life, Mary, who saw your enormous potential and guided you to it with a few simple, but powerful words. Makes you wonder how many souls are out there who never heard the words and so had their potential whither on the vine.

    We should be grateful to your Martha…because by inspiring you so long ago, this flock is benefitting today. How lucky are WE!

  7. Wonderful quote Mary and a blessed Thanksgiving to everyone. Enjoy the warmth of family,friends and our pets for those are what are truly important.

  8. What a beautiful quote for Thanksgiving from a little girl who never had the years to fulfill all of her potential, but who left us with so much hope and words of wisdom. The power of an encouraging word from your teacher Mary! It reminds us of what a great gift we all have to encourage others, and it costs not a cent. Just sincerity and recognition of the seeded spark within us all. A blessed Thanksgiving to all!

    Love your title to the post too, Good News!

  9. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    My history teacher in my senior year of high school once gave me a warning slip. These terrible pieces of paper were given out in front of the class to let students know their grades were slipping below a C. I was mortified! After class he took it away and threw it in the waste basket telling me that he just wanted me to know that my A- wasn’t acceptable to him. Point made; point taken!

    I didn’t complete college until 2001 (a long story, too), but I never forgot Bob Silva’s lesson. I, too, graduated with high honors.

    Thank you to all the teachers, whether in a school setting or somewhere else, who see something in us that we don’t consciously know.

    1. Susan, you brought back such a memory – I can laugh now – but at the time, when my younger son was in junior high school and not exactly applying himself, I would dread those notices that would come in the mail from time to time, because I never knew what to expect. They’d vary from “is in danger of failing” to “Is a pleasure to have in class” – and everything in between. One thing for sure, traditional school setting/curriculum often does not quite click with highly creative kids. The ‘seed’ is there, – the soil just isn’t right, but with time, and the right teachers, the gifts come to fruition.

  10. I read these words posted here and give thanks for the abundance of insight and love we share on a daily basis. This flock is such a part of my ‘on-going adult education’ from which I hope to NEVER graduate!
    Mary, you are like the pebble tossed into the pond, radiating ever outward, bringing all of us closer to our higher selves. Gratitude and blessings to the best ‘teacher’ I’ve found since I left school.

  11. I love the feathered flock idea! How clever and what an honor to believe I could be part of this group of thoughtful people who encourage, support and inspire each other through Mary’s blog.
    The idea of Mary being a pebble sending out wonderful ripples to all of us is perfect for Thanksgiving.
    Love to you all,
    From Fran

  12. I too am thankful for you all. What a privilege it is to be a ripple in this feathered flock!! Sending love back . . .

    1. Great question, Maria. Given the brevity of her lifetime, she must have been a very old soul—enlightened beyond my comprehension.

  13. Happy Thanksgiving to all. I am thankful for Mary and all of you, and I am thankful that, because I cooked last year, this year is my sister’s turn. And I am thankful for an incredibly beautiful day here in New Mexico, with a vast clear blue sky and temperatures in the 60s so we can walk the dogs and ride the horses and pet the burros (donkeys to you Easterners!).

  14. What has struck me, Mary, is your willingness to be human and to share it with others. That in itself is a ministry towards others.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Americans,
    in Canada

    1. Thank you Sandy…I very much appreciate that. Sending blessings of thanksgiving to you!

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