September 29th, 2018 was a dream come true. I worked so hard for the past 5 months writing a book that was my passion for education. Touch a Life is the culmination of all of the stories I have lived through personally and professionally. In my 44 year career I worked with the most challenging students. Now I get to share these stories with my friends and family.
Since my excitement felt more like “This is Your Life”…Sharon Benaderet-Cohen, I decided to tie my talk into the people in the room. I began with introducing Ken, a teacher who I met 40 years again when I got my first special ed. Class. We became instant friends. I loved his sense of humor. We have remained close friends. He knew my first Principal who eventually became my mentor, Hattie Green. I shared how I recently called her to thank her for making me the outstanding educator I am today. She remembered the student I had anxiety with all summer and what happened. She told me, if you could teach David, you could teach anyone, and look where you have gone!
Continuing on my time line, I began highlighting stories of students I have introduced Barbara who appears in my book. She was in my second class of 5th grade students 44 years ago.
Barbara was also the teacher if my MD- students. After I surprised my class, she came to my school and surprised my class. We took a picture with my students. It was titled “Mrs. Cohen’s students were taught by Mrs. Cohen’s student!”
Next came Samantha who was the student who observed me networking. She was in the Lion’s Ambassador Club. Samantha had to select her favorite professor that semester to the Chancellor’s luncheon. I was honored to go. At the luncheon Samantha watched me introduce myself to the Dean and Chancellor. I told them I was a Penn State success and was the product of an outstanding Penn State education. Samantha got to watch first hand how to network.
Kaitlyn was my student teacher in my first class. She was assigned to a very difficult mentor teacher who was a perfectionist. Every time I would go into observe her, Kaitlyn’s cheeks were bright red. She was upset because her mentor teacher totally changed her 5–6 page lesson plan.
When we went to the room to debrief which was supposed to be 30 minutes of allotted time. I had to spend time with her for at least one hour to boost her self-esteem. This was time well spent.
Kaitlyn was the only girl in her class who did not get a job the summer after graduation. She spent hours preparing an outstanding portfolio. Her classmates all got jobs even with very little preparation. Her principal called her with a proposal of becoming a one-to-one for an autistic student. Kaitlyn did that for one year and then decided to relocate to Virginia. She had two wonderful interiews and got an outstanding position. She has done so well that she was nominated “Best First Year Teacher in 2017.!” Kaitlyn and I have evolved from student and professor to very close friends. She even wrote the Foreward to my book.
Synchronicity says there are no coincidences. I explained how Judy was my daughters’ professor at Penn State and she has also been my friend since seventh grade. My girlfriend Robin was my student’s kindergarten teacher. My girlfriend Ilene was my girlfriend’s son’ teacher. We were all connected in a special way.
The icing on the cake happened at the end of the party. My friend Ken came up and told me I saved a teacher’s career that morning. As an Art Teacher and Supervisor he was about to tell a student to find a new career. He re-read my Win-Win chapter and decided to give her another chance. He touched a student’s life. You can’t ask anything better than that!