Room Keys

I remember it vividly. It was the summer of 1993. Right after signing my contract I went straight to the school. The Principal’s secretary gave me a hug, said how happy she was that I got the job and then, “Now let’s get your key.”

I followed her to a room where she opened a gray metal cabinet of keys that sounded like wind chimes. She pulled out one key, logged it in the book and looked at me with sincere, compelling eyes as she placed it in my hands. Then she told me to take good care of that key, but more importantly she said, “The students.”

Directly to the room, I went. Once inside, I looked all around and imagined the difference I would make. This was my first full-time teaching position. Seven years of toil through successes and failures, retail work, uncertainty and exhaustion… all so that I could teach. Now, I was there.

I was ready to be the difference for every student, to inspire, to help them dream, do things they would never imagine possible, and yes to make a better world.

I had the good fortune to teach and hire teachers for thirty years. Every teacher I met and hired had a story similar to mine. Teachers are idealists, dreamers, believers, and doers. Teachers are heroes. It is not hyperbole. It is a fact. Sometimes though, heroes need to be reminded how it all began with their dream to change the world. Recently, I’ve needed it more than ever.

So take a moment, close your eyes and remember when you got that key. Remember the key ring you put it on. The smell (well, in some cases maybe not the smell) of your first classroom. Most importantly, remember your passion. You’re a hero. Dream big. Be awesome.