oh my gosh, I'm so excited!

It made a difference to that one

Posted on: August 22, 2010

I attended an event on Wednesday that reminded me of the youthful feeling that the world is just out there waiting for you to arrive.

Students from the sophomore class of my old high school were attending their kick off assembly.  They had started freshman year with an integrated learning plan and were challenged to take ownership of their education.  As they entered, the pep band was playing our fight song, and all of those feelings of newness and excitement for the future came flooding back to me.  On a large projection screen was a picture of a starfish.  As they entered, every third student would look up and say, “Oh the starfish!”

In summary, the starfish story goes a little like this…

starfishOne day, a man was walking along the shore and noticed a young child running back and forth to the ocean. She was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

“What are you doing?” he asked.  The child replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

  “Why?” asked the man.

The child replied, “The tide is going out and if I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” He said, “But don’t you realize there are hundreds? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the child bent down, picked up a starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, she said, “It made a difference to that one.”

The assembly ended with a video made by my very good friend, and one time teacher, who is heading up the integration of their program again this year.  It was a moving video and call to action, which by the end had the students on their feet cheering.  I was moved by their excitement and willingness to take on a challenge to get involved with something outside themselves, something they are passionate about.  These kids were engaged, they were fired up, and they were ready to make a change.  I’m not going to lie, I totally cried in the back of that auditorium.

I’ve been blessed to have some amazing mentors in my life.  People who showed me that I mattered, not just with their words but also with actions.  My parents are both educators and although expectations were high in our household, it was also an atmosphere of support and encouragement.  I might be biased, but I think they had a pretty big impact on their students as well.  This is evidenced by the fact that I can’t take either of them anywhere without some random person walking up and saying,  “Are you Mr. Gadus?” and “Oh, my gosh, it’s Sra. Gadus!”  Followed up by “you were so cool!”

Mr. Gadus

My dad was a teacher and then one of those administrators who was beloved on campus.  The students adored him; even the one’s who experienced him as “the Dean”.  (Trust me, you do not want to hear Dad when he puts on the administrator voice!)  He interacted with them in a way that let them know he respected them, he cared about their success, and expected them to make a good life for themselves, however they defined that.  He took pies in the face at assemblies; he attended every game of any sport, and even dressed up like Elroy Blues for the faculty follies.  Every Friday night growing up, I was on a football field with Dad watching the Colts, the Rams, and eventually he was taking me to games at my high school.

Sra. Gadus

My mom taught Spanish for 22 years and still has students send her letters saying how her classes inspired them to pursue language studies in college and abroad. She took the Spanish club to Spain in the summer and the Dia De Los Muertos festival at The Heard each year.  She’d take me to school with her to see plays and cultural events and I’d get to interact with students who had such respect for her.  She even took me as her date to the prom.  Oh what a night for an 8 year old.  I was in heaven!


And then there’s Susan.  She was my theatre teacher, but has since become a good friend.  Susan always held her students to a higher standard.  She expected us to be good people, not just good students.  And she still continues to inspire young minds today.  In the same way that my parents believed in their students, Susan takes the time to see each one as a person with the potential to change the world someday.  And she pushes them to discover that within themselves.

So here’s my love letter to educators, dreamers, and people who inspire us to be our best.  Have you told them how much they mean to you?

3 Responses to "It made a difference to that one"

Your heart-felt tribute is so special and touching. Thank you for having made the journey so worthwhile! Loving you and your enthusiasm, Mom XO

So appreciated your appreciation of mom & me and the photo tribute was very special for us. Loud music in the car ? — Shannon had to step out of the office the other AM making motions of ” turn the music down I’m on a lond distance business call” oops-sorry but gotta Gleek out in the AM! Of course there was also that ” first summer”we spent together listening & dancing to Motown & Billy Joel or listening to the Greenway HS Band in the stands at a football game, before your could barely crawl. I wish they all could be ARIZONA girls!!!

My dearest Alicia – you were always at the core of what I believed in my soul could be the pontential for all children. Thank you for still being there…making a difference.
I love you.

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