I was worried about accepting a lift in a vehicle with South African license plates. This was, after all, still the apartheid years, and Zambia had been bombed by the South African air force less than six months before our trip.

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Answering The Call: Inspiration For Teachers

Where does the inspiration to teach well come from? How and why do we teachers keep going at a time in Ontario when we are so often depicted as public enemy number one? What is the motivation when funding for kids is considered such low priority, and testing them such a high one?

The answer is quite simple. We know we make a difference. We know we are called to make a difference. Sure, the academics are important, but in the years after the children leave our classrooms, they won t remember the Cs or the Bs. What they’ll remember is whether they felt loved in our classroom, whether they felt safe, and whether they felt God. And that can make all the difference in the world.

In 1986, I was 22 years old, immortal, and out to discover the world. I had just completed the first year of a two-year volunteer contract to teach mathematics in Africa. I was posted to an impoverished boarding school in Malawi, a sliver of a country in central Africa, with another Canadian teacher for a roommate. Unlike my roommate Janet, I was a novice teacher, still feeling my way through lessons, spending long hot nights planning and grading, while I listened to distant drums and nearby crickets.

My job was fulfilling despite the overcrowded classrooms and 1920s British textbooks and by the end of the first year I was beginning to realize that job satisfaction was dependant on a lot more than my student s academic successes. Besides the new experiences in my community, the opportunities to travel were fantastic. It was near the end of one particular trip that I learned how important one teacher s influence can be.

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On this occasion Janet and I had been visiting the fabled Victoria Falls

that Livingstone had so loved. We had been lucky enough to hook up at the end of our trip with some young American missionaries who were driving their new pick-up truck back from South Africa to their Malawian mission. They were in a hurry to get back as one of their number had just come down with malaria, and they were eager to have as big a company as possible.

I was worried about accepting a lift in a vehicle with South African license

plates. ...

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