Tomorrow is Miss Harriette McCarter’s 90th birthday.
(Miss McCarter is in the plaid shirt and white pants)
Most likely you do not know Miss McCarter, so pull up a chair and let me tell you about her because we can all learn from her.
Miss McCarter was my friend John Roland’s 2nd grade teacher in 1982. (John is the red head in the middle). What’s so amazing is that at the end of the school year, Miss McCarter typed every student a letter outlining their strengths and weaknesses and gave advice on how to grow as a person. Her letter to John was two typed pages, and my favorite part is when she writes, “Because I love you and care for you, I am going to make some suggestions.” Her suggestions include “Listen when directions are given” (sorry, John, this is too funny not to share) and “Be willing to try even in you make a mistake” (good advice for all of us). She closes by telling John he is a “special gift” and a “joy and has brought much sunshine into her life.” My hunch is she didn’t just do this for her class in 1982 but others years as well.
John claims, “Everything she wrote about in 1982 is still true today. I love to read and really enjoy learning. I still write too fast and need to slow down in all areas of my life. Math is still a challenge for me. I have struggled for a long time about worrying too much and being high anxiety. Still true but although I am much less anxious the last few years than I ever have.” Tomorrow John will call Miss McCarter on her birthday like he does every year, and she, also like every year, will send him a thank you note for calling.
The lesson is two-fold:
Go the extra mile to encourage the next generation. Students are impressionable, and when you speak into their life, they will take notice even if they don’t acknowledge it. You don’t have to be a teacher to this. Most of us have young people in our circle of influence to encourage, and if you don’t, volunteer at a local school or get to know your neighbor’s kids. The next generation wants and needs our encouragement.
Go the extra mile to bless those who have spoken into your life. Too many times we miss opportunities to tell people how much they have influenced our life. Follow John’s example and call someone who made a difference in your life on his or her birthday each year or send a card to someone for no particular reason other than to say thanks.
Who can you encourage tomorrow?