Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Phone Call That Made Me Reflect on My Inspirational 5th-Grade Teacher

My phone rang at 7:22 this morning. Curious, I looked at the caller ID to see that it was my sister calling. "H. is calling me at 7:22 in the morning....something must be wrong..." I immediately thought. Before I could let my brain race through the list of potentially horrible events that must have happened in order for her to be calling earlier than possibly ever before, I picked up the phone anxiously.

"Hey..." I answered, tentatively, waiting for the bomb to drop.

The enthusiasm in her voice was far too chipper for something to be wrong. Could it be that she just wanted to chat at the beginning of our days, rather than on our way home from work like we often do? Maybe the pregnancy is messing with her body's clock. 

"I was just listening to the radio in the car and heard that there is this new app you can get on an iphone that transfers smells!" she exclaimed.

My tension released. A few days ago, I had asked her to describe a smell to me of a substance I had never smelled before. Have you ever tried to do that? It's hard! Anyway, in light of our recent conversation, this radiomercial was just too intriguing to not call this morning.

Arriving at her destination, she had to hang up almost immediately, but although our conversation was short-lived, my thoughts about it were not. 

Apparently, this "Scentee" accessory that can be plugged into a smartphone to emit smells is not as new as we had thought. (We're not incredibly tech-savvy in my family.) It is pretty incredible, though.

I started thinking about the person who developed this nifty little tool. What kind of reaction did he get when first shared his idea with his friends or teachers? 

I can almost picture it:
"I'm thinking of developing a device that will let you send smells to your friends through a smartphone!" 
Cue the laughter.

I bet it sounded absurd to the first people who heard the inventor's idea. But along the way, someone believed in him. Someone had to help him make his dream become a reality.

I was brought back to my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. C. I can remember clear as day when she asked us to create a plan for any invention we would like to make in the future. "Be creative. Dream big!" she told us. After giving us time to design our inventions, she then conferenced with each of us about what we had created.

My dream invention was a car that could drive itself. I will never forget that response I got from Mrs. C in our conference.

She didn't laugh or say, "Now, wouldn't that be great?" No, she encouraged me to do it! 

My little 5th-grade self was shocked. I'll admit, I thought she was a little crazy. "Me, build a car that can drive itself? Riiiiggght." But Mrs. C persisted. She encouraged my dream, explaining that if I wanted to build this invention, I could do it! 

She spoke with certainty. She spoke with belief. She spoke with inspiration.  

I may have left my self-driving car dream back in that 5th-grade classroom (Google found it and made it a reality, though!). However, I will never forget the confidence that Mrs. C showed in me that afternoon. I walked out of that classroom a little taller that day. Someone truly believed in me and was confident that I could do great things.

Thank you, Mrs. C., wherever you are. I no longer dream of making cars that can drive themselves, but I do dream of inspiring students the way you inspired me. 


  1. I can't even imagine a phone that could send a crazy is that. I love how you connected your story back to your experience of your own. I want kids to dream big...imagine what life and tech will be like in 20 years??? I hope that I will always be curious.

  2. Wow. You hit the proverbial nail on the head about the reason I teach, maybe a student will walk a little taller one day because I believed in them.

  3. Glad that people have dreams, but as the mom of a 14-year old boy, I DO NOT want an app upon which he could send me smells.