Superintendent’s Blog – November 2023 “The Influential words of a teacher”

I was on Instagram the other day and came across a post that said the following:

The first time Josh Johnson did a stand-up comedy routine at his high school talent show, his teacher said, “ I’ll see you on the Tonight Show one day.”

Fast forward several years. Josh was invited to the Tonight Show and flew his teacher to see his performance in person!

The video played on and showed Josh giving credit to his teacher and Jimmy Fallon calling him up out of the audience and giving him credit.

I had a similar experience in college. On the first day of class, Mr. Hundley, my American History teacher, who also happened to be the Superintendent of Schools in the college town of San Marcos, Texas, went through the class roster and had each one of us tell him what job we wanted after graduation. I told him I was going to be an Agriculture Teacher. Of course, being in education, Mr. Hundly appreciated that answer, and we would visit from time to time about the ups and downs of education. One day, about six weeks into the class, we were discussing presidential leadership, and I was contributing to the conversation. Mr. Hundly stopped me and said: “You know how you told me you were going to be an Agriculture teacher?” I said, “Yes, that’s what I’m going to be.” He said, “Yes, you are, but you are going to be much more; you’re going to be a school leader.” I laughed it off; I’d never dreamed of anything but being an Agriculture Teacher.

After that class ended, Mr. Hundley and I stayed in touch. Throughout the years, he would send me letters and ask how my career was going. After I landed my first superintendent job, Mr. Hundley was one of the first to call and congratulate me. He followed me throughout my career, and we still write letters to each other. I have always remembered his comments and words of encouragement.

Let me put it this simply: Mr. Hundley changed my life. He gave me a new career direction with one 30-second statement: “You’re going to be much more.” I knew what he had done for me, and throughout my career, I tried my best to do the same and tell people when I thought they were “going to be much more.” Whether it was students in my class, teachers who worked for me, or administrators, I always tried to let the great ones know they could do so much more.

Teachers (and parents) hold the power to change kids’ lives with a single statement. They also hold the other power to kill dreams. I hope you will grow. I wish you all the best as we head into November, the Fall, and Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with your family, and use this opportunity to encourage others!