Four Words

There are too many teachers to list here that impacted my life: Phillips, Bryant, Davis, Pippen, Stringfellow, Jackson, Cornelius, Goforth, Prosser, Miss Emily, Mashburn, Taylor, Winston Parden (from church) and the list could go on. There is one who stands out even among this list of great educators and principals. It is an understatement to say I was a undisciplined student. I was distracting, always making jokes, and looking for attention. I owe an apology to all the educators that had to tackle the task of providing my education. Coach C, Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Davis all provided that education courtesy of a paddle. Third grade teacher, Miss Hill, left a lasting mark on my heart and life. Miss Hill was a grandmother figure who wore long skirts, tweed jackets, pointed classes, and had well kept white hair. She carried herself with grace and dignity. Being disruptive in her class meant writing on the blackboard. I wrote on the board on many occasions.


I still remember that I was in Connecticut singing when I found out that she passed away. I sat looking out the window watching it snow and just wept. I had regret that I never shared with Miss Hill how much she had impacted my life. It made me sad and at the same time deeply grateful for her compassion and tenderness in dealing with me.

There was a day in third grade that stands out. The class was supposed to be working on homework. “David,” I looked up and Miss Hill was looking straight at me. I was confused because I was actually working on my studies. I was being called up to her desk. “Oh crap! Wonder what I will be writing on the board this time” summarized my thoughts. A deep breath and I begin the slow walk to the front of class. I walk around the side of the desk and she summons me closer. She sat tall and proud in her desk. Sitting down her pen, she leans forward and putting her arms around me. She smiles and said “I believe in you.” She then hugs me and sends me back to my desk.

I was blown away. I had never heard those words before or at least that I could recall. She believed in me? Why? Looking back now, she wasn’t saying she agreed with my behavior or antics. She wasn’t saying I could be anything I dreamed of being. She was telling me that she saw potential that I couldn’t see and she was doing her part to water that seed in my life. I along with all the people and educators after ward would love to tell you that my life immediately changed but that isn’t true. My behavior in her class improved drastically. I had many lessons ahead to learn and powerful failings that would drive me back to that third grade moment.

I wonder what she saw that day. It remains a mystery. I do know that day a teacher shaped my heart and life. I know it is one of the reasons I try to encourage other people. An encouraging word, text, email, or prayer can help shape someone’s day or even their life.

To every teacher that welcomes a new school year, thank you. There is a child you will see each day who will look back and one day tell stories of your impact on their life. To each parent, show grace and pray for them. They are being used to help shape and mold your children.

Four words, “I believe in you” helped shape my life. Thank you Miss Hill. Any encouragement others receive from me is in part because of you.


What teacher shaped your life? Leave comments below telling them thank you.


I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I am embracing the brokenness of my sin and sin nature, that apart from God through the work of Jesus Christ, I can do nothing. I am a work in progress surrounded by people who love the Lord. I want to know my story and be able to see Christ and myself in others.

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Posted in Grace
One comment on “Four Words
  1. RunStretchGo says:

    What an amazing memory! I love it.

    Not an educator, per se, but had a mentor tell me a few years ago, when I was still finding my business self, that I needed to believe I belonged at every table (in reference to being in meetings). He also told me I needed to find my leadership voice. Those two things run through my head almost daily, and has made me not just a better leader, but a better person. At the core, both are helping me focus on knowing my strengths and not being afraid to speak up.

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