One of the greatest rewards of having been a teacher is to learn that you in some way positively influenced your students' lives.
A couple days ago a fellow retired teacher from the high school where I taught sent me an email with a link to an article from the online magazine of Ohio State University. It was about a former student of ours by the name of Luther Nolan. You can read the story here.
Luther has been working as a groundskeeper at Ohio State for the last sixteen years, and he has also been a full time student at the university. In 2013 he earned his bachelor's degree in anthropology. He continued with his studies, and at commencement ceremonies next month he will receive a second diploma... this time with a major in history and minors in Spanish and Andean and Amazonian studies. Along the way he has also learned Quechua, the language of the Incas, and has some knowledge of Mayan hieroglyphics. He has been accepted into Ohio State's doctoral program, and next fall he will begin work on his PhD in Latin American studies.
I remember Luther as a high school student in my Spanish III class. Because of my travels and my interest in archaeology, I spent quite a bit of time in that class with units on the pre-Hispanic civilizations of Mexico and Peru... accompanied with slide shows of my travels to archaeological sites. Shortly after I started writing this blog Luther posted a comment. He said that he had thoroughly enjoyed all those slide shows of pyramids and ruins. It was an influence on his decision to study anthropology with an emphasis on Mesoamerican cultures.
Luther, I am so proud of you... and humbled that I, as a teacher, had some influence in your life.