Great Teachers Turn Life’s Challenges Into Lessons and Inspiration for Others

Jul 13, 2018 12:00:00 AM


As teacher leaders, we go out and we inspire; we fight; we motivate, and we do it because we love students and believe in educators. We view our teacher role models as superhuman and often wonder how they get through each day without burning out, but even the strongest educator goes through personal trials that require a lot of hope and faith to get through. I will never forget the difficulties I experienced not soon after finding out that I was named Teacher of Year. It was September 2016, and I had a really big speech to deliver, yet I had just learned that my mother was severely ill and my nephew was facing some really tough issues. I went into the bathroom, cried, splashed water on my face, and went out and delivered a 45-minute speech on taking care of people. Not a single person in the crowd knew what was happening in my personal life, much like we as educators stand in front of our students, who sometimes view us as superheroes. Internally, we may be breaking down, yet we are everything they need us to be on the outside. As educators, it is important to remain hopeful in spite of the situations that may occur in our lives. Recently, Casey Bethel, one of my teacher role models and 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year, informed me that his wife Elise, who is battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, was given some very bad news. Elise shared this,
It pains my heart to say this but we were told yesterday, there is nothing else MEDICALLY THAT CAN be done for me and that tomorrow I'm being discharged, headed home, and hospice will meet us there. As believers, we KNOW that there IS something else that can be done, but it won't be easy! So we are as a family, are asking you to believe with us that God is our ULTIMATE HEALER, and His Word never ever fails. I'm at peace, I've still got joy; God doesn't change! He never will, and He never has. Never lose your hope, FIGHT FOR YOUR will because God is STILL able!”
Casey and Elise both inspire many people with their strength and courage to believe that healing is still possible even in spite of the doctors’ report. Through their testimony, I have learned to:
  1. Never give up: When I think about refusing to give up, I think of the many students who have entered into my classroom who others may have cast aside. I know that we must never give up on our students, and instead believe in their ability, and encourage them to believe as well.
  2. Always remain positive in the face of adversity: What resonates with me the most each time I talk to Casey is the positivity that he maintains. As I cried for Elise, he comforted me and gave me words of encouragement while I should have been encouraging him. Casey said to me he was at peace and is looking forward to coming through this to be able to encourage other people. I am in awe of his ability to be an inspiration and to be positive in a situation where most people would focus on the negative report.
  3. Never lose hope: There is so much going on in the world around us, from immigration, to the state of education, to sickness, it is enough to cause you to lose hope; however, we must remember there is always hope. There is always light at the end of a dark tunnel. One of my former students was very depressed and I told her, without rain, there can be no growth. Tough times do not last always, and joy does come in the morning. We must remain hopeful!
Please keep Casey and the many other people impacted by cancer in your thoughts. To contribute to Casey and Elise, please visit this donation page. All proceeds will go towards medical bills and to their 6-year-old twins’ (Harper & Jaxon) college fund. Remember, never lose hope!
Photo courtesy of Casey Bethel.

Kelisa Wing

Kelisa Wing is the author of "Weeds & Seeds: How To Stay Positive in the Midst of Life’s Storms" and "Promises and Possibilities: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline" (both available on Amazon). She also is a 2017 State Teacher of the year, speaker, teacher and activist for discipline reform. Kelisa holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland University College, a master of arts in secondary education and an educational specialist degree with a concentration in curriculum, instruction and educational leadership from the University of Phoenix. She is currently enrolled at Walden University in the doctor of education program. All views expressed are her own and do not reflect the views of any others.

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