Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

A Blog for Teachers
by Mary Jean Powers

Leaving a Legacy with Colleagues

Nov 16, 2020

“The difference between legend and legacy is the difference between what you do versus who you are. It’s how you invest your life rather than where you spend your life.”
Dr. Chuck Stecker

Walking along the canals and narrow streets of Amsterdam, I asked 10-year-old Stefan, “Do you think I’m old?”
“Well, how old are you?”
“No, you’re not even half-way.”
I learned later that longevity was the norm on both sides of Stefan’s family – most of his relatives lived to be over 100 years old, so of course, I wasn’t even half-way!

We often associate the concept of legacy with the end-of-life stage. “What legacy did they leave behind?” As valid as that is, I think we can be leaving a legacy daily, regardless of our life-season. When I turned 60, I was stunned by the reality that I had already lived much longer than I was yet to live.  It was – and is – a sobering thought…

Dr. Chuck Stecker of A Chosen Generation says: “The difference between legend and legacy is the difference between what you do versus who you are. It’s how you invest your life rather than where you spend your life.”
Interesting … investing vs. spending.

Teaching for Investment

Teachers invest in others’ lives daily. We make deposits with the hope of compound interest! The question is: How am I investing my life? How? How am I making daily deposits in my students, in my family, in my colleagues? Of course, I am making ‘unintentional’ investments by simply being who I am naturally. But am I making intentional, purposeful investments?

We could take this conversation many directions, but I want to focus specifically on leaving a legacy with other teachers. We all know that there will always be people who know more (and have experienced more) than us. That’s a given. But we sometimes forget that each of us has knowledge and experience that many other teachers do not have. In other words, we all have something valuable to offer our fellow teachers: a lesson learned, a character trait challenged, a humbling conversation, a prayer answered, a victory celebrated, an imaginative spark of genius!

Others’ Investments

One of the reasons I am still so very enthusiastic about teaching (after 49 years!) is because teachers of all ages and levels of experience have deposited into me from their storehouses of wealth. Here are three examples:

  • The most creative teacher I’ve ever worked with lit a fire of imagination in me during her first year of teaching… and I had already been teaching for 20 years! She so thoroughly inspired me, that the fire has only intensified during these past 30 years!
  • In war-torn Sierra Leone, I met a teacher who cemented within me the inestimable value of education. Every school in his neighborhood had been blown up during the civil war, so he set up an open-air ‘classroom,’ established regular school hours, and quickly had over 45 students! Students of all ages sat on the concrete for hours and recited lesson after lesson in unison. This committed teacher was not paid; he was a firm believer in the power of education to transform his nation.
  • I once worked alongside a teacher whose personality really clashed with mine. But this woman had a depth of joy unlike any teacher I’d known. I had heard rumors that her life had not been easy… so where did she get her joy? I invited her to breakfast and asked her, “Tell me your story. Where did you get your joy?”  Two hours later, I had learned some secrets to choosing joy that have sustained me throughout my career – and my life!

I could tell one story after another of how other teachers have inspired, motivated, stimulated, influenced, energized, and goaded me into the teacher I am today. Please do not underestimate the power of YOUR life and experience as a teacher. Other teachers need to be challenged and encouraged by what you have learned and by who you are. What keys-to-teaching do you possess? They may be the very keys that open an entirely new dimension of teaching for one of your colleagues today!

About Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

I am a teacher. You, too? I hope you love the profession as much as I do! I was 16 when I got my first teaching gigs – I had 20 private piano students and a Sunday School class of 4 and 5-year olds! At that point in my “career,” my definition of teacher was very limited. But now – after 45+ years of experience – I have come to realize that teacher can mean many different things. I’d like to share some of those insights with you! My posts will range from quotes to prayers, from cartoons to words of wisdom. Much of my teaching experience has been international, so you'll get to watch some video stories from around the globe. Jesus is the best Teacher I know, so I will be including Him in this blog, as well. I hope my thoughts and my story will encourage, provoke, and inspire you to become the teacher you’ve been created to be!

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Mary Jean Powers

Mary Jean Powers

B.A. in Christian Education
M.A. in Biblical Studies
Music teacher (band and choir director, private instruction) for 35 years
International Bible teacher for 17+ years
Certified Walk Thru the Bible instructor
Certified TESL International Instructor
CEU Provider for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)
Certified Life Coach and Chaplain

Who am I? A teacher coming alongside teachers!