Along the way, they forestalled Coach Nick Saban's quest to reach lofty heights in the coaching profession by joining the great Paul Bear Bryant, who alone has six National Titles to his credit. Needless, to say, the air is mighty thin at that great height! Whether one was pulling for Alabama or for Clemson, it was quite a game.
To be honest, irrespective of who is playing, I love watching championship games. One generally gets to see the best of the best on display; and although Alabama has arguably become a college football dynasty under Coach Saban, Clemson is presently in the process of asserting their own potential for dominance. And yet, as impressive as the play was on the field, what happened at halftime was really noteworthy.
All season long, the College Football Foundation has supported the “Extra Yard for Teachers” initiative, the purpose of which is to elevate the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering quality teachers.
This culminated in the recognition of 50 teachers during the halftime activities. And for that, I offer up a hardy “Amen!”
In my files, I have a copy of a January, 1992 Reader’s Digest story about the tremendous significance of a single teacher on the life of a child. It quotes syndicated columnist Carl Rowan, who wrote the following in his autobiography, Breaking Barriers, about a teacher who greatly influenced his life. As he relates it:
Miss Thompson reached into her desk drawer and pulled out a piece of paper containing a quote attributed to Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. I listened intently as she read: "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us."
More than 30 years later, I gave a speech in which I said that Frances Thompson had given me a desperately needed belief in myself. A newspaper printed the story, and someone mailed the clipping to my beloved teacher.
She wrote me: "You have no idea what that newspaper story meant to me. For years, I endured my brother's arguments that I had wasted my life. That I should have married and had a family. When I read that you gave me credit for helping to launch a marvelous career, I put the clipping in front of my brother. After he'd read it, I said, 'You see, I didn't really waste my life, did I?'"
Like Mr. Rowan, I am indebted to those who have taught me. In truth, I need to do more to let them know how much I appreciate their influence on my life. And for this reason, I have decided to make seeking out and thanking several of the various teachers who helped to mold me, at all levels, one of my new year’s resolutions.
In the New Testament Gospel of Luke (chapter 17, verses 11-19), Jesus heals ten lepers. Later on, only one returns to thank Him. Nine apparently never do. I want to be the one in ten who shows gratitude to those select individuals whose influence on my life is arguably only surpassed by parents and pastors. If you have not already done so, I hope you will plan to join me. Together, let’s show some long overdue appreciation.
STORY SOURCE: Quotation originally printed in Reader's Digest, January 1992. Taken from Carl T. Rowan, Breaking Barriers: A Memoir (Boston, MA: Little Brown & Co, 1991). Recounted widely in other publications and also online. See for instance: King Duncan, The Amazing Law of Influence (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2001), pp. 73-74, as posted online at: https://books.google.com/books?d=OnQ28EckVYUC&pg=PA73&lpg=PA73&dq=carl+rowan+breaking++barriers+quote&source=bl&ots=C