I’m fortunate to have grown up with parents who were great role models. My mom instilled in me a sense of self-reliance and compassion for others, and my dad’s work ethic and genial disposition are personality traits that always I’ve tried to emulate. When loving and supportive parents raise you, you eventually find yourself wanting to be more like them, but you don’t always realize that you’re also proud of the people that made you who you are.
I’ve always been proud of my parents, I suppose, but I just never gave it much thought. After all, it’s usually the parents that brag about the kids, not necessarily vice versa. Last month, however, the order was reversed when my dad was chosen as one of the top-three finalists for Indiana Teacher of the Year. It was definitely a proud moment for me.
Dad is a bit of a pioneer in his field, having developed the state’s first high school curriculum for television and radio production more than 45 years ago. For a small, relatively rural community, my dad’s class has helped offer a unique career path for many students and a place of refuge for some, as well. His letters of recommendation for the award included testimonials from those who went on to careers in TV and radio, and others that simply recalled his generosity when they needed a couple bucks to buy something at the school bookstore or a shoulder to cry on.
Since the early years of his program, dad’s students have created live daily newscasts that are distributed to every classroom and home throughout the community. His curriculum served as a model for many other schools that followed, and these days even my daughters’ elementary school has a student-produced weekly newscast that is sent to every classroom.
In many ways it was the time spent in my dad’s classroom/studio that guided my interest in journalism. In high school, I found that I had an affinity for writing. Then in college, I earned my bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and interned as an on-air news reporter at a local NPR station. And when I took my first job in New York, it was for a magazine focused on audio and video technology that, in a way, I had learned about when spending time with my dad.
I could probably never be a teacher like my dad because he’s fearless in front of people and relates to his students in such a unique way. I can, however, try to be a good role model like him.
Having had such a unique opportunity to reflect on my dad’s life last month gave me a glimpse ahead at how I want others to think of me. We all have our good days and bad days, but stop and consider your own influence on the people around you. Whether you’re the CEO of your company, a parent, or simply a colleague to your co-workers, what are you doing to provide a positive influence on those around you? Who is your own role model? Do they know that you’re proud of them?