Great Teachers are Great Leaders (I’ve had a few in my life)…

They don’t make teachers like they used to – But then again – I’m no longer in school so what do I know?

What I do know for sure is that at Bishop Anstey Junior School there were three teachers that had a significant impact on my life:

  1. Mrs Massiah
  2. Miss (as far as I can remember 🙂 ) Cumberbatch (who myself, Cecilia Thompson and Jacqueline Morris referred to as Ms. Cumbie)
  3. and Leslie Hoyte

Mrs Massiah saw in me stuff that I didn’t see in myself. She encouraged me to stretch and to grow. She shone a light on my strengths and never hesitated to punish me when I went off track – but punishment of the ‘you can learn from this’ variety. Not beating. But sometimes a long stay up near the board, by yourself, so that you had some time to THINK about what you did. The thing is – once it was over. It was over. She didn’t refer to it ever again. No ‘you remember the time when I had to’ – no – none of that. In that light – I wanted to improve – first for myself. Anything after that was icing on the cake and it came as a broad beam on her face that told me that she was proud of me.

Ms Cumbie on the other hand was the scripture teacher. She had us learn psalm 100 and that popular prayer by St Ignatius of Loyola. At the time I had no clue why we had to memorize these verses yet today not only can I recite them by heart but just these two – have had a significant impact on my life. Psalm 100 is primarily about gratitude and that popular prayer by St I. is like a rule book for life. It’s about focus and what we focus on does expand. Had Ms Cumbie tried to wax philosophical then, she would have lost us. But I guess part of her new that by insisting on us committing it to memory that the words would stay indelibly on our hearts and influence our lives forever.

And finally Leslie Hoyte – the art teacher – who was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy cool and wore black nail polish. She taught me that it is was OK to be different. Here I was, a fat kid, teased and mocked, so self conscious that I stuck to reading and trying to fade into the bland school walls. In art I was able to express. In art class Ms. Hoyte SAW me. I have no memory as to whether she thought my art was good or bad – what I do know is that being seen allowed me to open up in a way that I perhaps never did before.

We can all be Great Leaders but not by trying to be anything. I doubt that any of these teachers fully realized their impact. What each had was a definiteness of purpose, strong values and the intention to bring out the best in EVERY SINGLE CHILD that crossed their paths.

We can build a better world by taking home this one idea: today – why don’t you first bring out your best self and once you have the opportunity – encourage the best in others.

Thank you Mrs Massiah, Ms. Cumbie and Leslie (which she sometimes allowed me to call her although I never abused nor disrespected her :)!) – THANK YOU!!!!!

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