Good Morning Class
THE PRESTON JOHNSON ROTARY SPEECH CONTEST was created 25 years ago by the Dublin Rotary Club and named in honor of past district governor Preston Johnson. Each year, the contest theme is based on Rotary International President’s theme, “Serve to Change Lives” or they may choose instead the “Rotary 4-Way Test.” Of all the things we think, say and do: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Good Morning Class
By Caitlin Nelson
“Good morning class. I know you all are nervous, excited, anxious, and antsy. So, we are going to start off with ice breakers today. I am going to tell you a little about myself and then I want to hear all about you guys! Come and gather on the mat with me, sit crisscross applesauce, and remember to use your inside voices for me.”
This is just some of what I remember from my first-grade teacher. She told us a little about herself and then asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Kids started shouting out answers, “I want to be a doctor, I want to be a fireman.” “A policeman,” someone else shouts out. “A dancer” someone screamed from the other side of the room. The teacher notices one little girl not participating so she puts her fingers under the little girl’s chin and asks, “What about you sweetie? What do you want to be?” The shy little girl looked up and whispered, “I want to be a teacher just like you.”
Now I’m a little older and I realize that teaching is often a profession that we overlook when we think of “serve to change lives.” Normally, we think of something glamorous or prestigious. A doctor can literally save lives, a lawyer because they can help to prove someone’s innocence.
When I first heard the topic, I was confused. I didn’t know where to start. So, I started with a definition. One definition of serve according to Webster’s dictionary is to “answer the needs of.” We all know that teachers answer the needs of their students, especially during the pandemic. We saw teachers answer that need by making learning creative and fun. They found ways to engage their students. The teachers were also observant on the virtual platform and made sure the students were safe and secure within their own homes. I know that I personally benefited from teachers meeting my needs. I found myself struggling to maintain my grades and turn in my assignments. My teacher met my needs by calling my parents and working out a plan. At the time, I didn’t like how this need was met, I didn’t even realize how serious it was but, because of her, I am able to stand before you as part of the graduating class of 2022.
Once the restrictions were lifted and school began in person again, teachers continued “serving” their students. They taught First-graders the value of sharing. Third graders how to take turns. Fifth-graders patience. Eighth graders the satisfaction of volunteering. Ninth graders the joy of physical sports. Eleventh graders how to be respectful of others’ opinions. All of these activities and traits help to build a well-rounded individual who grows up to “serve to change lives.”
Now I want you to Imagine a child. A dancer. It’s performance day! She is standing in the wings of the stage, and peaks out to see how many people are out there. It’s a full house tonight, and boy are those butterflies turning. She is afraid. Frightened. Scared. The teacher notices and gives the child a gentle nudge in the right direction. The child goes onstage and dances. They soar. That’s what teachers do. They serve. They see a need and they fill it. They gently nudge their students in the right direction, so that they can soar in any pathway or field that they want to pursue. Now I want you to think back to the little girl who said she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. Can you guess what she is doing 20 years later because a teacher nudged her?
Twenty years later she is saying to her first-grade class… “Good morning class. I know you all are nervous, excited, anxious, and antsy. So, we are going to start off with ice
breakers today. I am going to tell you a little about myself and then I want to hear all about you guys! Come and gather on the mat with me, sit crisscross applesauce, and remember to use your inside voices for me.”