that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.

mentors

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The problem is not really a problem.

The problem, that’s not really a problem, is that sometimes we need support outside of our parents and family and friends.

The problem is, I appreciate my parents belief in me, but sometimes I wonder if they believe in me because they love and like me, not because they understand me.

Don’t get me wrong. I think my parents are the best a person could ask for, they are even better than what I asked for… I think though, they understand me more now than they used to. But mainly because they didn’t give up on me. Because they love me.

But back to the problem.

I had a visit the other day; a visit that was long time coming. It was with my Professor from Mount Royal College. Stefan was my education prof and from the get-go, first year, we reached a stalemate. I took the majority of my education classes from him while at the college and I guess you could say, he likes me. He was the first teacher I had who values student thought over teacher lecture; self discovery over textbook learning; and recognizes the importance of life’s experience. His classes were the only place I ever felt understood, respected, and appreciated by my teacher while my classmates may have disagreed. I would say the things that no one else would think of that would warrant a “yes!” or “I love you– someone finally got it!” (no kidding, he said that once – I love you) from Stefan while throwing the other students for a loop. I have dreams, opinions, desires for my career as a teacher that my Professor always seemed to appreciate. I liked his class. I got A’s in his class. I got an A+ in his class.

Now last year, at one point, I was more depressed and sad than I had ever, if ever, been in my life. I won’t go into detail, but there were moments that I felt lower than the dirt on my shoe and nothing seemed to fade it away. There were reasons, yes, but nothing beyond God. So while I tried to make sense of what was going on, I began to not only feel confused and sad, but look it (I don’t hide things very well). I went to see my Professor about my future and the final, and I sat down in his office and he just told me “I don’t need to know what’s wrong. But trust. Trust yourself; trust God, for you are meant for more than this.” Yea, ok, I already know that.

Stefan told me numerous times that he sees himself in me. That when he was 22 and trying to figure out what was intended next, he only knew he wanted to teach. He said that’s why he tries to give me insight, wisdom, so that I might make better decisions. He’s taught on Indian Reserves with kids more troubled than I can begin to imagine; he’s globetrotted the entire world doing who-knows-what while embracing all that God offered him along the way. And this summer, he is planning to publish a book he’s been writing for thirty years. I figure, if he sees a little of himself in me, then can I try that too?

I asked him once if he thought I should teach elementary or high school… and he said “I’ve only told one student before you this, but I think you could do both.” Well, great, but the desire in my heart is to inspire older kids. Limit me, please.

It’s funny how going to see him the other day came after a long Easter weekend of doubting and fear for my future; for my dreams; he set me at ease. After an hour of talking and venting, he just told me again You aren’t studying to be a teacher, you already are a teacher. And I left feeling alright again, shamed at doubting God and remembering what on earth am I here for.

In my last class with Stefan, at the very end we had to write a paper called ‘My Philosophy of Education’ which I thought would be hard to write, given I am not a teacher yet. On the last day of class, we had to present our philosophy to the entire class. He saved me for last. Which sucked at first, because a feeling had been building inside me that I was a frustration to my class members, because he liked me. Because we had a bond. Because I was like him.

So I got up there to talk and I cried, I was so nervous, for the first time, because my paper was a seven page essay revolving around one simple concept: I don’t know what my philosophy of education is. I didn’t see how I could. I was vulnerable and scared, saying I wanted to inspire the way Stefan had inspired me, to recognize in each child his potential and consider that my education. I said I wanted to forever be adding to my philosophy because I never wanted to stop learning from my students (I am selfish that way). And to my surprise, one of my classmates raised his hand and said, “Kate, I hope I can inspire my own students the way you’ve inspired me… and the rest of the class.” What? Weird. And everyone agreed with him. Everyone told me they learnt as much from me as from Stefan. My Prof walked to the front of the class, and gave me a huge hug and said in my ear “Don’t ever ever be afraid to admit you don’t know. But ALWAYS know this: You are a teacher.”

I am not being conceited… if you know me at all, you know that I am not like that. I am just trying to pay tribute to my Professor. The man who sends me booklists in the summer to read and gave me a break on my final when my car got towed. The man who thinks I will write a bestselling novel one day and travel the world and fall in love with a man who will understand he doesn’t have to understand me. He also believes I will always feel out of place in a world that may not accept originality.

A 60+ year old man who was the first, outside my parents, family, and friends to say: Kate, I believe in you. You’ve got it. God believes in you. Now show it to us. It’s not that i don’t appreciate hearing if from others, but man it’s neat hearing it from someone in the profession. Someone who gets it.

So my problem is, I really don’t want to let anybody down. But sometimes it’s so hard. God’s got my back, and in turn, I need to take care of my responsibility to do what I am intended. I just hope good news comes in the next few months.

Plus it’s pretty cool having my Prof as a reference on my resume.

(Forgive the length. I am spending quality time with myself tonight…apparently I had a lot to say)

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3 thoughts on “mentors

  1. I’m so glad that you have someone like Stefen to tell you what you most need to hear. You are an inspiration… and I’m excited to hear your teaching stories in only a few more years. I’m excited to hear how your first English class goes!! I’m proud of you…

  2. You are such a great writer! I hear what your saying. Parents are great but it takes a mentor outside your related circle to aspire you to greater things, to believe in you to go the distance. ‘I am ready for anything and equal to anything through HIM (christ) who infuses inner strength into me.’ Phil 4:13

  3. Kate, I really hope you come to UVic….I would really love to get to know you better. I’ll say it again…you’re a pearl of a girl and I suspect somewhat of a diamond in the making too.
    I love you dear one. Auntie Monika

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