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We are all teachers

Last week, someone asked me, “If an alien came to visit Earth, what do you think they would find most confusing about our planet?”

My first thought was why we pay teachers who mold our children so little.

Maybe during Black History Month, we ought to recognize those who changed education forever. Alexander Twilight, in 1836, was the first African-American to earn a bachelor’s degree. Patrick Francis Healy, in 1866, was the first African-American to earn a PhD and the first to become a Jesuit priest and the first to preside over a white college. Fanny Jackson Coppin, in Philadelphia, was America’s first African-American principal in 1869. Henry Ossian Flipper in 1877, was the first African-American graduate from West Point and the first African-American commissioned officer. Booker T. Washington created Tuskegee Institute in 1881 as an African-American teachers’ college. Daniel Hale Williams started the first interracial hospital in America in 1891 and later added the first school for African-American nurses. Inez Beverly Prosser, in 1933, was the first African-American woman to earn a PhD.

My mom was a teacher. My two aunts were teachers. My wife is a retired teacher and my oldest son is a teacher. I taught for several months before joining the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and always considered myself more teacher than preacher. During seminary, I read Ephesians 4:11-12, “It was he (Jesus) who ‘gave gifts to people;’ he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers.” Some scholars say those last words ought to be pastors-teachers. The truth is, we are all teachers — psychologists tell us we influence at least 10,000 people during our lifetime. Make every effort to influence those in your world for good.