Kids told teachers how they had made a difference

You can, too

Sometimes, we just need something to restore our faith in humanity. The recent “You Made a Difference” Awards by University Motors was exactly that.

During the ceremony, 18 educators were honored, received awards and $500 checks and got to hear the letters nominating them read aloud by the students who felt they had made a difference.

It was a beautiful reminder of the impact teachers have on students. And that while a single person may not be able to change the whole world, they can change someone else’s whole world. They can make a child want to learn. They can foster passion and curiosity. They can build a child’s confidence. They can make the classroom a safe place in a child’s life. They can — and do — make a difference.

It was also a reminder of how rarely we tell the difference-makers in our lives that they did make a difference and how much we appreciate them.

Think for a moment about someone who impacted your life for the better. Maybe it was a grade-school teacher who supported your dreams or talents, or a college professor who opened your eyes to a whole new world. Maybe it was a coach who pushed you to be your very best, or a mentor who quietly advised you while loudly singing your praises, or someone in your community who took you under their wing.

Hopefully, at least a few names come to mind. Even if they were from very long ago.

When was the last time you thanked them? Or at least told them that they changed your life?

For too many of us, we will struggle to remember if we ever said the words “thank you” or “you made a difference.” And some of us will have the realization that it is too late to say those words to once-beloved mentors who have since passed away.

The kids who read their essays aloud at the “You Made a Difference” Awards won’t have that regret. It takes a lot of bravery to write down our feelings — and even more to say them out loud. Let us all learn from them and find the courage to reach out to the people who made a difference in our lives — even if it feels like a lifetime ago — and tell them how much they mean or meant to us.

The wonder of the modern world is it’s easier than ever to get in touch with people whom we had lost contact. (In fact, it’s one of the few good things we can say about social media.) So send a Facebook message, or cold-call them, or even write a letter. Just find a way to tell them “thank you.”

Once upon a time, this person made a difference in your life. Perhaps sharing your gratitude, no matter how long it has been, will make a difference in theirs.