Monday, January 14, 2008

Who Mentored You?

Courtesy of ywel

As part of the National Mentor Month, January 24th is Thank Your Mentor Day. Some of us have had very special mentors that really helped shape who we are and give us some direction at a time that we needed it. Many others have had mentors that have been there quietly in the background, just being their and maybe their contribution wasn’t noticed (or appreciated).

This leads the who mentored you (which is also a web site that promotes mentoring)? Parents and grandparents are obvious choices for most people, while teachers should be right up there along with ministers, neighbors, friends, and so on. While some parents are better equipped for the job than others, there is no doubt that they have one of the largest influences on who we become. Teachers may just be doing their jobs, but we did learn, which is amazing when you think about it. There are many people in the world that are not able to get a good education; or they attend schools that are literally falling a part (possibly unsafe), not properly funded (maybe not able to provide textbooks and supplies), where good teachers are scarse, or survival is the priority and not education (think about some of the inner-city schools or those in war zones). It’s also possible that a minister or two has helped shape your life. While ministers can teach you all kinds of things about your particular religion, they can also teach you so much about life and attitudes that you take in yours.

I’m deeply thankful for the parents that raised me. I was fortunate enough to be raised by a mother and father that lived under the same roof, an opportunity that many kids don’t have. They were always supportive in most anything that we wanted to do. They really wanted us to go to collage. My mother started nursing school when I started college and got first her R.N. (Registered Nurse) and later her B.S.N. (Batchelor of Science in Nursing) at a time when many people are thinking more about retirement or just enjoying that their kids are starting to leave the house. My father dropped out of high school to help raise younger siblings but he did get his G.E.D., became a Master Plumber, and took a variety of trainings.

I was blessed with a variety of great teachers who encouraged me to learn. I remember Mr. Hammond, my 4th grade teacher, predicting that Ronald Reagan was going to be the 40th president of the U.S. when Gerald Ford was still president. I remember Mr. Gossman, my 7th grade English teacher, inspiring me to want to write. My 9th grade English teacher, Mr. Hood, further developed my interest in reading. Mr. Thompson taught me an interest in the government. Mr. Schroeder taught me that there was more than one political and economic system. I believe that most of my teachers provided some valuable lessons. I was also fortunate enough go to college.

Reverend Jerry Smith stands out from the variety of ministers that I have experienced in my life. While he had several traits that you would come to expect in a minister, he also seemed to embody those traits in his life and in his actions. He was caring and giving. He proof read several papers that I had written. Years after he had moved onto other churches, he performed the funeral service for my mother. I can’t think of anyone else that would have done a better job.

In honor of the Thank Your Mentor day, maybe you can take the time to thank some of your mentors and better yet payback some of their efforts by becoming a mentor yourself!

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