I’ve never met Tony Danza’s mother, but I can tell you I admire her. Why? I once read an article in a magazine about Tony in which he described his mother’s philosophy. I can’t remember or even find the exact wording of the quote, but like all thoughts worth remembering, it has stuck with me for years without having to memorize the exact words. She said, in essence…
Every child deserves at least one adult in their lives who is passionately and even irrationally committed to their success.
Isn’t that a perfect thought? Isn’t that what every child really needs and deserves? The truth is my own mom believes I’m smarter and more capable than I am. Her belief has gone a long way to build my confidence and create any courage that I have. It encouraged me to personally push toward success. She is the first person I want to tell about any of my triumphs. She is also the person I go to when I feel deflated by the world. When the world hurts me she is mad at the world and she hurts too. She believes the world is wrong because she is committed to seeing the best in me.
I even like Mrs. Danza’s son. He values education and teachers. He is infectiously enthusiastic in every role he plays. I credit her.
But I’ve taught long enough to face other realities. Many, many of our country’s schools are filled with students who do NOT have even one adult who is passionately and or irrationally committed to their success. Not a parent, nor a relative, coach or even an adult friend. No one.
This leaves teachers with a tough and tall order to fill. But we must step up to the challenge especially when no one else does. Somehow every student needs to feel like we are committed to their success, yes even irrationally committed… even if all the sign posts point in the opposite direction. That is when our commitment is most important, most needed. Every one of our actions needs to demonstrate, “I’m on your side. I see your talents even when you haven’t yet discovered them. I know you have the ability and/or persistence to succeed. Whatever the evidence I am committed (irrationally if need be) to your success.
Tony Danza’s mom would expect no less of us. We shouldn’t either.
TEACH…To Change Lives
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