Back To School

It’s 11:11pm on 9/11 as I start this blog entry (not on purpose, I am just haunted by 11’s, especially lately)…it has been a while since I’ve been here…yikes, almost 3 weeks…I have been out of town running around in Dallas, Austin and New Orleans and then on a whim, Las Vegas! I got back last night. Some of the running around was work, some was play and most was rest. It’s the end of the week that began with Labor Day, marking the end of the summer, entering the beginning of fall and when Monday rolls around, we are all officially, back to school. (I don’t know about you, but I still think somewhat in semesters…)

So while I was in Dallas, I actually went back and visited the grammar school I attended and interviewed my 5th Grade Teacher, Carol Lanning, for Epiphany. God Bless Facebook – she actually found me on there. This woman is what I consider a ‘Master Teacher.’ What is a ‘Master Teacher,’ you ask? Put it this way — every kid she taught, if they are on Facebook, is her friend, and every single person I’ve ever talked to who had her as a teacher says that the year they were in her class was one of their favorite years of all time…okay, we were 10 when she taught us and we’re still saying that!!

I always wondered what it was about her that made her different, that touched us all so much. In my case, I always said I thought it might be something along the lines about her ‘seeing’ me – truly ‘seeing’ me for who I was at the ripe old age of 10…I know, it sounds ridiculous, but that is how she made me feel and somehow her recognizing me in this way gave me confidence that I’d never felt before and has been something I have been able to drawn upon throughout my life. Maybe she did that for all of us. I’ve never really been able to clearly articulate or truly figure out what she did that was so special and what her secret was for being a Master Teacher. I have found Master Teachers are not common – I’ve only had about 5 my entire life and that’s a lot for most people. I want to know what the secrets are to this magic they hold. Carol Lanning, my first Master Teacher, definitely had that magic and now I was going to have the opportunity to interview her for Epiphany! I was thrilled! I had no idea what she was going to say, but I was sure whatever it was, it would probably be interesting and insightful. I showed up after not seeing her for over 20+ years and it’s weird, but it was like not that much time had passed. So Carol (it’s still bizarre for me to call her that, I still kept calling her Mrs. Lanning) told her epiphany story on camera, and guess what? Yep. Gorgeous. I won’t give it all away but I wanted to share what her quote is from this epiphany…

‘If you believe in a child, they will succeed.’

Think about that for a second …

‘If you believe in a child, they will succeed.’

Yes. That was her secret. The key to what what she did for us. She truly, really, absolutely believed in us. Completely without question. It was real. When someone believes in you like that, the confidence that is instilled and what becomes possible is endless. She did this for all of us in her class. She said the hard part was convincing children that she truly did believe in them, but once she did, they bloomed.

I told the story of her epiphany to a group of my friends at dinner the day I conducted the interview and we all had tears in our eyes by the end. (and Mrs. L herself had teared up when she told it, much to her surprise…) I think this story was so moving to all of us because we can all relate in some way…to our own kids, to our spouses, our sisters and brothers, boyfriends or employees – whoever is close to us in our lives…

After thinking about this for a while, I have come up with this theory: If we don’t truly believe in the people closest to us, we need to really look at why. Why don’t we believe in them? If we really don’t believe in them to succeed or grow or do well or be trustworthy, etc., we need to figure out why we don’t and we need to try to change that. (If in the case of a relationship outside of a child, you can’t change yourself to believe in a person, the relationship should seriously be looked at and considered.) In my opinion, it’s imperative, especially when you’re dealing with your own children and your significant other. It’s that important. And if and when you do believe in them, the job is to make sure beyond any doubt that they know it – that they truly know and believe that you do believe in them. I think many times we don’t realize that they don’t know we believe in them – they never believe that we believe in them and that is crippling to a degree. Think about it…if the people closest to you in your life don’t believe in you, who will? It makes it SO much harder to believe in yourself, and if you don’t believe in yourself – again, the question is: who will?

‘If you believe in a child, they will succeed.’

…a simple, yet extremely profound and very important realization that, for me at least, really extends beyond children — but this is definitely one for all parents, guardians, teachers and anyone else dealing with children everywhere…

See, Carol Lanning, Master Teacher, still teaching me 20+ years later! (and she’s now teaching gifted children in Math and Science using a lot of Harry Potter stories and situations to teach her classes, so I’m right, she is magical…for real…)

So here’s to Master Teachers, End of Summers and Beginnings of Falls…Happy Back to School, ya’ll – may all our ‘Schools’ be as colorful, fun, and as full of lessons and magic as Hogwarts ~ Cheers!

About Elise Ballard

Elise Ballard is the author of Epiphany! a book of inspirational stories, aha moments and exclusive interviews from Random House Publishing
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2 Responses to Back To School

  1. Suzanne says:

    Suzanne Sylvester said…

    What a beautiful quote. “If you believe in a child they will succeed”. I have two sons, and that one quote is more inspiring than any other I’ve heard. I also want to say that I work with people who have acquired brain injuries. If you, or anyone you know has had a brain injury, I think this quote is applicable to the recovery of the brain injured person. I have been telling my patients the essence of this message, but I will now use the language I’ve been given by Epiphany. Thanks Elise, -Suzanne

  2. Jhguhiho says:

    What a beautiful quote. If you bveleie in a child they will succeed . I have two sons, and that one quote is more inspiring than any other I’ve heard. I also want to say that I work with people who have acquired brain injuries. If you, or anyone you know has had a brain injury, I think this quote is applicable to the recovery of the brain injured person. I have been telling my patients the essence of this message, but I will now use the language I’ve been given by Epiphany. Thanks Elise, -Suzanne

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