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Senior Correspondent

"The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book."

I have always been secretly jealous of people who could sing. Perhaps it was because I got kicked out of mixed chorus in high school … three years in a row. OK, I exaggerate. I was asked ever so nicely not to come back … three years in a row. Guess they didn't need a female frog.

That didn't keep me from memorizing the lyrics to hundreds of hit songs from the '60s and singing them with great enthusiasm every chance I got. I especially loved Janis Joplin. What I lacked in quality, I made up for in volume.

There was an upside. There's always an upside. My Plan B was that if all else failed, I could stand on any street corner and sing '60s songs. People would surely pay me to stop. I tested my back up plan a couple of times, once in Maui and another time in San Francisco. Very promising, indeed.

To my great delight, our nieces and nephews were born with gobs of musical talent among their many other gifts. As they were growing up, we attended as many performances as we could, and thoroughly enjoyed being their fans, cheering rowdily, and bragging to anyone within 6 feet.

Fast forward a few decades. It's February, 2013. Our nephew, Matthew Gladden, now performs professionally with Charles Bruffy's Kansas City Chorale. Along with other members of the choir, Matt and his wife, Meaghan, are attending the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. The very Grammy Awards hosted by LL Cool J. No big deal, really. The Choir has been nominated for a couple of Grammy's. And did I mention that Matt had a small solo in one of the album selections?  

Sure enough, The Chorale's 2012 album "Life & Breath-Choral Works by Rene Clausen" received two Grammy Awards, one for Best Choral Performance and one for Best Engineered Classical Record.

Thanks to technology, we felt as though we were attending the Grammy's, as well. Cheering and carrying on, we shared the moment, over and over.

One of the first Facebook posts from Matt following the Grammy announcement was to thank a vocal teacher from elementary school, Ms. Ginny Simons. I couldn't decide whether I was prouder of the Grammy or that Matt remembered a long ago teacher, at that moment.  

My Uncle, Jess Clonts, taught several generations of high school students in a small, rural Missouri town. Uncle Jess passed away nearly 25 years ago, and yet, his daughter Anne frequently hears from students who recount these amazing stories about how her father impressed and shaped their lives. The stories come from professionals in various fields from all over the country. One such story about Uncle Jess came from an airline pilot living in Virginia this very week. It is no accident that Anne is a dedicated, creative and passionate educator. Thank you, Anne.

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

Your Coaching Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept It: 

As you reflect on your accomplishments and successes, can you remember a teacher, mentor, coach, or boss who saw your potential before you ever had a clue?

It's never too late to thank them, their family, or simply to offer a prayer of gratitude for their influence in your life.  Do it this week!

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