A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

–Henry Brooks Adams henry_adams.jpg

I don’t know much about Henry Brooks Adams, but I like what he said. Today provided a personal testimony to the truth of his statement!

I co-presented a professional development breakout session this afternoon at McNeese State University’s Literacy Conference. One of the participants introduced herself to me at the begininng of the session, asking if I was the same Mr. Pulling that taught at Eunice High School years ago. After analyzing the situation, we figured that it was really Eunice Junior High, and the year was around 1990 or 91–and yes, I was her eighth grade English teacher and I did, in fact, remember her.

So here she is as a pre-service elementary teacher at the Literacy Conference, on the verge of student teaching in elementary school and hearing her “old” teacher (coincidentally on his birthday!) present on an entirely new topic (i.e., “new literacies” brought about by technology).

After the session, she lingered a few moments and made small-talk with me and my co-presenter from the McNeese education department faculty. In that conversation, she recalled an incident that moved me much more than she will ever realize: She recounted the time when, as an eighth grader, I asked her permission to read aloud to her eighth grade peers a piece that she had written for an assignment. because I thought her piece was a good example. She even remembered that it was a descriptive writing assignment.

I had no specific recollection of that incident, but she did. And what she said in conclusion of it all was just utterly profound and sobering to me, although she never intended such an effect. For she stated something to the effect of the following: “That made me “like” writing for the first time, and I’ve liked it ever since.”

Wow. I don’t even remember the incident specifically, but here’s this kid (well, she’s pretty grown now, but relatively speaking) giving my influence the credit for something so awesome.

I thanked her graciously for sharing that incident, especially in front of my colleagues, giving glory to God for putting her in my path today to provide such an uplifting (on my birthday, no less!) to remind me that this business of teaching really is serious (even though the pay is not.) It’s a calling that impacts lives.

We never know where we’ll impact eternity. I hope Tara (the student) will call on a third grader in a year or two to share a piece of writing one day and evoke a similar testimony . . . and on and on and on . . .