The Ripple Effect

Have you ever noticed the circles that form when you drop a rock or object into a pond or lake? With the rock as the center point, these “ripples” spread outward further causing more ripples and if the water is calm enough, this cycle can continue onward for long distances. 

Likewise, I believe each of our lives emulate this “ripple effect” as we are given opportunities each and every day to make a difference in this world, both positively and negatively, and we may never truly realize the lasting implications of our choices. Therefore after recently coming across a journal from my middle school years, I would like to take the opportunity to share this excerpt written in the spring of 2009 about my teachers. 

~~~

“I have gained a whole lot of knowledge in middle school like about algebra and what to do with the letters, labeling the countries in the world on maps, and even how to express myself in writing whether through poetry projects or personal narratives… But far greater than all that is the relationships I have been able to develop with my teachers and the life lessons that I have learned from each of them… 

Through their examples and encouragement, I have seen the importance of hard work and determination. Although school is tough for me and I have to work extra hard to learn, they always make sure to notice me and spur me along to keep up the good work… 

My teachers have also taught me the importance of having a good attitude. No matter what is going on in their personal lives, how tired they are, or even how frustrated they are in dealing with us (and I know we don’t always make it easy), they bring smiles on their faces and encourage us to do the same. I will always remember the sweet smiles of several teachers standing outside their classroom doors greeting us as we come in. To us, a bunch of hormonal and unstable middle school students, that little thing means the world… 

I have also learned that my teachers care about me through their actions and they are always willing to help anyway I need it. Whether it is someone to wipe our tears or to laugh with, give us a ride home or stay after school to give extra help with homework until we understand, write a note in our journals or stop to ask how our day is going, they go out of their way to make sure we know we are loved… I know I am safe and can trust them. I belong. And even if we mess up, they show us grace and help us fix it in the moment or show us how to do it right the next time. We are not just a number. They tell us we are all unique, individual young ladies and gentlemen that MATTER and this truth truly makes all the difference. ”

~~~

Although my middle school teachers probably didn’t realize it at the time as they fought the day to day battles in dealing with our hormonal chaos plus their own personal struggles, they were truly creating a greater ripple effect than could be imagined. Not only impacting the trajectory of my life forever, but even inspiring me to become a middle school teacher so I had the opportunity to pass on what I received from them in my future… No words could truly ever thank each of them enough… 

Nonetheless, no matter where you may find yourselves, whether you are a teacher too or a construction worker, uncle or banker, mom or brother, nurse or janitor… Please know that regardless of how big or small your task, YOU matter!!! And you too are creating a ripple effect often beyond what meets the eye. The question is “What kind of cycle are you making?” As you reflect, I also challenge you to look back in your own life and take the opportunity to thank those who have made an impact on your life.  You may even be surprised what you find.

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