Sunday, October 19, 2014

Walking With Giants

Several weeks ago I posted this on Facebook:

As the first hectic week of school comes to a close I am reminded once again that I am so fortunate to walk with giants every day. Not giants in stature, but giants in terms of the size of their hearts, the strength of their spirit, and the depths of their understanding and humanity. I'm humbled by both students and colleagues, who uplift and inspire me beyond words. Look for the giants that surround you-they are often disguised by humility.

It occurred to me that I should share their stories as they are key characters in my own story. This is the first of a series of posts about the giants in my life. I hope they inspire you as they have inspired me.

On Friday morning I opened an email with the following attachment:

This is the culmination of months of collaboration between one of my students and Grant Anderson and his mother, Julie Anderson. Grant and his mom came to visit my school last year as part of a disability workshop. Grant shared with my students the story of how he suffered a traumatic brain injury several years earlier in a car accident. Two hundred and twenty students sat enthralled as he shared images and movies of his grueling recovery process. His message was clear: work hard, persevere, and remain positive. One of Grant’s passions is music and before long he had all of us singing along to one of his own compositions. He touched every single person in the room that day, but he especially inspired one student in particular.

She had written lyrics for a song about our school partnership with Project Cope, a non-profit organization working to eliminate poverty in rural Zambia in a single generation. Having no composition experience, the song and melody was trapped inside her head, but in Grant she recognized an opportunity. We asked Grant and his mom if they could help and over the next few months they visited school several times to work on the song with my student. Seeing the product of their efforts on Friday reduced me to tears. 

I am humbled and honored to know people like Grant and his mom, giving so generously of their time not only to support a good cause, but to help a little girl realize a dream. They truly are giants, teaching both myself and my students much more than any written curriculum could.  If you are looking for a guest speaker to inspire your students I cannot recommend Grant highly enough. Click on the image below to learn more about Grant’s story, as he was deservedly recognized as someone who makes a difference on The Heart of Detroit. Who are the giants who make a difference in the lives of you and your students?