15 09/17/2012 parenting Education

The Good Ones Inspire

NIVEA-L.pngThis blog post is sponsored by NIVEA Canada.  NIVEA believes that every child deserves the best care. With this in mind, NIVEA Canada is proud to partner with the child rights and international aid agency, Plan Canada, to help fund an education project in Senegal, West Africa. With the shared goal of building schools, providing better opportunities for education and teaching essential skills, NIVEA Canada and Plan Canada are working together  to help break the cycle of poverty. To learn more, you can also visit Facebook.com/NIVEACanada and click on the ‘NIVEA & Plan Canada’ tab.

We all understand the value of a good education, and we’re lucky to live in a country where our schools are good, and where education is mandatory. In Senegal, West Africa, only 31% of children will be able to afford to attend school beyond the primary level, and 38% of the population is illiterate. These are especially sad statistics for girls, which makes it all the more difficult to break the cycle of abject poverty.

Besides providing excellent skincare products for many years, NIVEA and Plan, a child’s rights and international agency, are working together to improve school environments, teaching methods, learning materials and much more. At the same time, they’re working closely with the local communities to guarantee a positive sustainable change in the lives of children. By investing in education, they want to help these children to reach their full potential – as individuals, members of their communities and citizens of the world. In Canada, NIVEA has partnered with Plan Canada specifically to help fund an education project in Senegal.

Plan-Canada-4.png According to UNICEF, many people living in sub-Saharan Africa earn just $1.25 a day. Many have little access to basic services like basic healthcare or clean water. And in a world where 74% of us have access to internet, in Senegal, 84% of people go without – Plan is working to improve access to education, which can lead to more internet access, which can lead to more opportunities.

Plan-Canada-3.pngThere are some truly excellent people out there who provide an amazing service for the rest of us: to teach our children well. And I believe the ones who do the very best jobs are the ones who also inspire young people. They lead by example. They challenge the ones who are stagnant by making them work harder. They don’t give up. Often, this requires constant attention. Sometimes it can be accomplished with a few simple words.

I had such a teacher when I was in high school. And I was lucky enough to have him three different times.

David Carpenter taught me tenth grade English – this also happened to be my homeroom class each morning. He was a calm and kind man. Very smart. It was a godsend that he was my first teacher of the day, while the anxiety of my nearly-fifteen-year-old self was peaking. He made me feel grounded and steady. I knew what to expect from him. As the year clicked along, I came to know how much he expected from me, too.

I was voted vice-president of the class that year – a job I did not really want, but my running-mate was cuuuuuute. Mr. Carpenter said I must. “People like you, kid, don’t worry so much,” he said with a smile. (Worrying about things was my favourite pastime then.) And as we tackled the dreaded public speaking segment of the curriculum, despite my nerves, it appeared that I delivered the best one in the class, and I then had to stand in front of the whole school and do it again.

Holy crap.

I wanted no part of it. I was fairly certain I’d die from the experience. Talk? In front of the cool kids? In front of long-haired boys I was crushing on so hard at the time? The MILLIONS of them?! Oh HELLS to the NO.

“No thank you,” I said.

But like a good teacher, he insisted. He said, “You have a real knack for telling stories, you know… you can do this. Don’t worry so much.” After the in-front-of-the-school thing, I did it again for a city-wide thing. I blocked that out of my memory though. (Stress can be a funny thing.) I do remember how proud he was of me… he smiled a lot and chucked me on the shoulder and said, “Great job, kid.” His pride meant the world to me.

My teacher wrote a lot of his own prose. And poetry too, which he read to us sometimes, along with the other greats you’re supposed to read in high school English classes. I thought it was wonderful that he was published. How nifty! My cool teacher! It was proof-positive that regular people can accomplish interesting things, like writing books and being published, as well as being a happy husband and a dad. And a great teacher.

So, when in grade 13 I had the good fortune to have him first as my English teacher, and then as my Creative Writing teacher during the second semester, I was thrilled to the bone. My favourite teacher of all time! Again!! That was, until he really worked me. There were no gift marks in his class, for certain. He was tough, but fair. He taught me how to deconstruct and to edit. I had many of my creative writing pieces handed back to me with lots and lots of red ink marking up the pages everywhere. In the margins were words like VAGUE! and CLARIFY! and LAZY! There were long scrawled paragraphs at the end of my papers basically shredding my every word. (Lazy? *clutches pearls* How DARE?!) I was crushed.

I was also annoyed – I had read the work of some other kids in the class, and their stuff seemed really weak – weird and rambling, grammatically flawed, and full of spelling mistakes. But he didn’t seem to hack their stuff to pieces like he did mine.

My chin wobbled when I asked him what I was doing wrong, and why he seemed lighter-handed with the others than with me. He smirked, and threw his hands down. “Don’t worry about them. Your stories are good… but you can do better. Revision is not a dirty word, you know, it’s all part of the process… do better, you know you can. And I know you can do it.” And then he smiled went back to reading his poetry or whatever. He was never one to coddle.

I did so much better after that. I did work harder. And his very simple ways of inspiring me have remained with me to this day. Indeed with my writing, but also in all things. Do better… you know you can. Sometimes that’s all it takes – to hear someone you respect and admire say yes, you can do it.

I wish all kids could have such an experience – a chance to be inspired, and to be challenged – this is part and parcel of a good education. A good education is good for everyone in the world, and access needs to be available to all.

To find out more about the Plan Canada and NIVEA Canada Senegal Project and how the purchase of any NIVEA product will help contribute to a better education, information will be available on the ‘NIVEA & Plan Canada’ tab on their Facebook page. You can also help spread the word by clicking the ‘Share‘ button in the ‘NIVEA & Plan Canada’ tab, or even contribute directly by clicking ‘Donate‘.

We at UrbanMoms know the value of a go
od education. Follow how inspiring teachers have made a difference in our bloggers lives. And we want to hear from you, too! Share your story below for a chance to win a truly remarkable gift – one
lucky member who shares a personal story of an inspiring teacher could
win a gift from NIVEA Canada including NIVEA products and a donation to
Plan Canada in your or your child’s name.

Contest Closes on Monday, October 1, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.

Click here for Contest Rules and Regulations.

UrbanMoms.ca members are eligible to win so don’t forget to sign-inNot a member yet?  Click here to join.

  • Lynne

    Education is so important and should be accessible and available to all children. It’s great to see companies like Nivea getting involved in supporting education in Senegal.

  • Bella

    I was lucky enough to have one exceptional teacher at high school. This teacher inspired me to take risks and to challenge myself. I will be forever grateful.

  • MomX2

    Teachers can make such a difference in our children’s lives. Having a great one that inspires can be powerful I hope that my children are lucky enough to have this experience in their many years at school.

  • Tracey

    I love stories like these, Ircig – how lucky you are to have had her. I can tell she made an impact… and that’s golden!!

  • Tracey

    You are right, lady – and lessening the anxiety about learning an instrument (especially when you feel you’re not doing as well as some of the others in the class) is one of the greatest gifts a music teacher can give – making each child feel like he or she is doing well is a talent. How many kids’ music classes have been ruined by shrill teachers who belittle and berate, I wonder… kudos to your kid’s teacher – I hope your daughter enjoys making music for her whole life!

  • Tracey

    How nice to be paired with the same teachers so many years in a row! Must be very comforting to your Littles… that’s terrific!!

  • Tracey

    Thanks, Leslie! I really was fortunate to have that guy teach me so well… I really love this campaign by Nivea – and I’ve been using their face lotion and body lotions exclusively for more years that I can count. Excellent programme, this – and indeed, we really have things easy in the West… thanks for reading!!

  • Tracey

    Sonya, that is SO NICE of that teacher!! It’s a bit like complimenting strangers… it goes a long way, and often, the giver has no idea how inspiring or wonderful they’ve been in the life of the other. Le sigh. Lovely.

  • Sonya

    This is awesome Tracey! Just a thought, teachers inspire in so many ways and sometimes the littlest things count as well. Just a week before school started back up my son received a note from one of the teachers at his previous school wishing him a great year ahead. This teacher didn’t even teach him! My son was so surprised and I’m sure that will stick with him forever – inspiring him to be thoughtful.

  • Leslie

    Wow Tracey, what a great read!! You were so fortunate to have a teacher who inspired you so much. It is so great to learn what Nivea and Plan are doing for these children. We do take for granted our education system. For as good as it is, we sometimes still think the kids need more. Learning about these children is a good reminder of how great we have it!! thanks for sharing!! Oh and by the way, I love NIVEA, used it growing up and still use it today!!

  • lrcig

    Vivian Oke was my third grade teacher. She was tough but fair, funny, and she never underestimated our intelligence or what we could accomplish. Our class was fortunate enough to have her again in Grade Five – we later discovered she had asked for our class. Grade Five was even better. It was an election year and she taught us Canadian history with a real-life perspective on how election campaigns were conducted and what a difference we could make as citizens. She taught us to look with a critical eye at whatever we were reading – even the required textbooks! She was a tiny woman of First Nations heritage, and we learned about the First Nations before it was ever part of the curriculum. Together with my parents, Miss Oke helped me become a thoughtful, informed, respectful citizen.

  • lisa

    My 2 children have been lucky enough to have the same pair of team teachers for 3 different years. They are wonderful. It is great to have one inspirational teacher, but to have 2 in the same class was fantastic. As a family we were lucky enough to really get to know them over the 3 years, and they were fantastic at finding the different strengths in each of my children. They are inspiring, and I still love walking down the school hallway and saying hello even though we don’t have classes with them any more. They continue to share their strengths with new children and I am thankful my kids were in their class. Thank you

  • KittyPride

    My daughter’s band teacher makes every child in the class feel capable and gifted. Making music and feeling apart of the group has really boosted my daughter’s confidence. I think mastering an instrument and having a teacher encourage you is more than just a lesson about music, it carries through to everything and creates great adults.

  • Tracey

    Thanks, Michelle! Isn’t it amazing how wonderful some teachers can be? I wish they could ALL be so terrific. 🙂

  • Michelle

    Enjoyed reading your post.
    Teacher’s can make such a big difference in ones life. I never enjoyed studying History but one year in high school we had the most awesome teacher – she truly made history come alive and realize how important it is to know about what has happened in the world around us.

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