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“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~William Arthur Ward.

One of my favourite movies is Mr. Holland’s Opus, the story of a music teacher who touched the lives of hundreds of students in positive ways, but felt himself a failure, ultimately, because he never finished his Opus.

In the final scene—the one that turns me into a weepy mess every time I watch it—his former students decades ago gather upon his retirement to celebrate him.

One of them, now a grown woman and Governor of the state, addresses the full auditorium and tells Mr. Holland, “Look around you: WE are your Opus, Mr. Holland.”

And then they play his Opus for him, a full orchestra full of grateful former students. It’s a triumphant and humbling ending to a wonderful allegory for life’s journey. (And the sheer joy radiated by actor Richard Dreyfuss in that scene earned him an Oscar nomination.)

A good teacher teaches because, like an artist, or musician, or entrepreneur, they can’t not do it; the desire to inspire runs too deep.

Most times, they’ll never know their impact or legacy.

But on rare occasions…

This week I received two notes of thanks (heart-felt, oozing-gratitude-type-letters), simply for having taught somebody something at a time they were ready to hear it. One included this video. What pleased me most was that the person who sent it had attended a program with me almost 20 years ago.

It doesn’t take an orchestra or an auditorium full of people to make you feel like Mr. Holland.

Sniff, sniff…

So I thought I’d put out a challenge to you today, on this once-every-four-years day: How about sending a note of thanks or this video on to someone who taught you something, inspired you to stretch, and to leap beyond barriers.

We are all of us teachers, everywhere we go, with or without a degree, in or out of a classroom.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ~Henry Adams

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