Will Rogers once stated “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.” In working with thousands of teachers, I often feel that many of them are “friends I haven’t met.” In teaching my university classes in Interpersonal Communication, I tell my students that we build relationships every day. Most relationships never go beyond a simple hello and end with a goodbye. However, once in a while a connection is made and a stronger relationship is created.
So often I feel that I know many of the teachers who participate in our contest just from receiving their students entries and seeing the style and content that is sent in to us. I also have the teachers who contact me via phone or email and make a closer connection. Together, I work with these teachers as we combine our efforts to motivate and inspire student artists. Many of these have become friends and what started with the sharing of student work transitioned into sharing of lives as we engage in a dialogue that shares the successes of their careers and sometimes a letter of finality when they share with me news of their retirement.
Yesterday I received a call from a teacher who has participated with our program for several years. He is 70 this year and has three more years until he wants to retire. He told me that our contest is the highpoint in his teaching and it gives such a feeling of accomplishment to his students when work is rewarded from someone other than a classroom teacher.
To my teacher friends that I have never met but build a relationship of respect for the work their students’ create, I thank you for aways sharing a bit of your lives. Often a student or a teacher is seen as a record in our files, but when a connection is made, then a friendship is created. I thank you.