My dear friend Michael Daly retired from teaching today. A rather large amount of people gathered in a ballroom to celebrate his career and the man. He mingled the crowd as we sipped our cocktails and nibbled the h’orderves. There were handshakes and pats on the back and hugs. It was a quiet and sedate affair.
That is until the time came when people were asked to talk about Michael.
All around the room, one by one, people would stand and tell a story. It was a story unique to that person but common to all. This was a man who touched lives and changed them for the better. These were colleagues and friends and family members and students and all of them had nothing but praise for this man.
But the thing that struck me – the thing that resonated the most – were the students. They ranged in age from the current class to older and long since graduated. The word “mentor” was used often. As was “inspiration” and “role model”. There were stories of hardship, confusion, a lack of focus. These things were changed because of skills learned, a kind word and direction given. There are men and women today who have better lives because of a teacher.
I can’t think of a greater legacy.
We often talk of heroes. That word gets pinned on many – usually athletes or musicians or movie stars – but think for a moment about what that really means. Think how much we adore the actor who was in that movie we like; or that ballplayer who did that thing in that big game. Think about the place we put them in our society.
Now think about the people who quietly, without any fanfare, go about their days teaching. The men and women who taught us the skills and knowledge we needed to do what we do today in our careers and daily lives; the ones who continue to teach our children every day. These are the people that impact our lives the most and yet we rarely give them much more than a cursory glance in the rear view mirror. But the teachers of this world are the rock stars. The teachers are the heroes. They are the ones worthy of our adoration.
I am so proud to know a man like Michael Daly. I am lucky to be called his friend.
Michael Daly is a teacher. There is no higher compliment I can give.