"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe

The Power to Change a Life


I was going to blog today about a writing lesson, but I’m saving it for one day next week. Tonight, I started teaching a Children’s Literature class at our local university, and a conversation there is on my mind.

One of the students, a Biology major,  asked me if my mother-in-law used to be a teacher. It turns out she was his fifth grade science teacher in 1993 or 1994. He credits her with changing his life. Changing his life. In fifth grade.

He went on to tell me about the experiments she did with the class, and he explained to me in great detail about one she helped them perform that had to do with Palmolive dishwashing liquid and paper, and how “she lit a match right in the room to show us what smoking would do to our lungs.”

I can’t wait to call her tomorrow and talk to her about this young man. He hopes she will remember him. He wants to know next week what she said.

I already know she will remember him. She’ll have a story to tell me about him, every bit as detailed as the one he told me.

Do you know the power a teacher has? The power to change a life. In fifth grade.

Author: agnestirrito

I write. Make art. And in between, I do the best I can. ✌🏼️

7 thoughts on “The Power to Change a Life

  1. Such a lovely story. Mostly, teachers don’t get to hear about the effect they had; it’s only co-incidences like the one you tell about that lead the story back to the teacher. But there are millions out there floating around… I like to think about all those stories.

  2. I love this; it all comes around…again and again!

  3. Pingback: Life Changing | Working in Adult Literacy

  4. Agnes, glad to have seen this post from Kate. My own 5th grade teacher was the one who made me feel good enough to keep writing. She gave the class a series of creative writing assignments. The one that stands out is the descriptive piece in which we had to invent our own version of a perfect world. Mine was “Natureland,” where people lived naturally, the woods were pristine, and everyone bartered. My teacher was impressed by the level of description and detail and read the piece to the class.

    My teacher told my mother, a reading aid in the same school, that she had recommended me for a writing program for the gifted (apparently, a program difficult to qualify for). Unfortunately, I was not able to attend because it was at least an hour away from us. But just being recognized for my writing and knowing my innate need to write was worth something launched me.

    I have no idea how to find my former teacher. Her name was Janet Diorio (I don’t know if I am even spelling it correctly) and she worked at Eugene C. Vining School in Billerica, MA. I wonder if I could find her online, assuming I’m spelling the name correctly and assuming she even has the same name. Well, wherever you are, Mrs. Diorio, thank you. My mother and I think of you more often than you know!

    • Katherine,
      Thank you for sharing this memory of a wonderful educator! I hope you are able to connect with her one day.
      You remind me once again how words have life. They are remembered, repeated, and replayed over and over through the years.

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