In the Jewish Mishnah there exists a story like the New Testament story of the Prodigal Son. Its origin is uncertain as to time and place, but its message is unmistakable, and infinitely applicable to teachers and coaches.
A young man leaves his home and travels very far for very many years. After a time he wishes he could return home but he is unable: his strength is not sufficient for the long trip.
It is decided that he will send a messenger to his father to explain the situation. The father receives the message and asks the messenger to tell his son to get started on the journey home, that he will travel toward his son, and he will meet him however far his son gets.
More and more, I’ve come to understand that this is how it is with teaching and coaching in schools. We ask our students and athletes to take some steps, but we ask ourselves to meet them as far as they can get toward the goals and objectives we have for each individual in our program.
The teachers and coaches who make these requests of their students and athletes, as well as of themselves, are the teachers and coaches invited to the class reunions. They are the ones to whom students and athletes return 10, 20 and 30 years later to say, “Thanks. You made a difference. You meant a lot to me.”
There is no higher calling, or greater tribute.