From Pipi’s Pasture: A special letter
July 18, 2014
I assume that most of my "From Pipi's Pasture" readers have figured out that I enjoy taking care of my cattle — for that matter, I enjoy rural life in general. However, readers may not know that I have been a teacher for more than 40 years, and I love that part of my life, too.
There's only one drawback to being a teacher. The school years come and go, and teachers lose contact with their former students. In most cases, teachers never get to know whether or not they have influenced their students' lives — in book work or otherwise. Throughout the years, I have taught hundreds of students, both on a high school and community college level. Believe it or not, I remember a good many of them, and sometimes I wonder what they did with their lives.
So, imagine how surprised — and delighted — I was a few weeks ago to receive a beautifully written letter from one of my former students who, as a sophomore and junior, was a member of my general biology and advanced biology classes. That was during the years that I taught at Highland High School in Ault. The student was in my classes in the late ’60s.
(It is awkward to refer to this now grown man as "former student," but I'm not using his name because I don't have permission to do so.)
The former student started the letter "Hi, Diane," explaining that he thought he was old enough to call me by my first name, rather than "Mrs. Prather." How the years change things! He went on to tell me that after high school he went on to college to major in forestry with an emphasis on watershed management and soils and is a hydrologist — a biologist! He's also the pastor of a church.
If I spent a month on this column, if I used 1,000 words, I never would be able to explain how much this letter meant to me. This former student took the time, after all of these years, to look me up on Google. He found me with the Craig Daily Press. And he told me that I had made a difference in his life.
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So I have been thinking how all of us can take a lesson from this former student of mine. How many of us, myself included, don't take the time to tell people how they have influenced or are influencing our lives? And that doesn't go just for teachers, either.
For example, assume a 16-year-old worked for a contractor during the summer, painting a newly built structure. His boss was a good role model, teaching the young man not only how to paint but also about a good work ethic. Another teen worked on a ranch, learning how to do the everyday chores. However, the rancher also took the time to teach this young man why it is important to be a good steward of the land. He took time to point out the beauty in nature, too. These two "bosses" may have had positive impacts on the young men's lives. And there are so many more examples.
So take some time. Thank someone who made a difference in your life.