When I was growing up in Chance Cove, Trinity Bay, I decided I wanted to become a doctor. At the age of ten, I broke my hip and spent several months in the hospital. For months I was in St. John’s, away from my parents, and I relied on the good natured nurses and doctors for my care. I was a little boy all alone. My parents couldn’t afford to get the train to St. John’s so it was a very lonely time for me. The only people I saw were those who worked at the hospital, and their kindness inspired me to want to be a doctor. By the time that I finished school, I realized how expensive it was to become a doctor, and knew I wouldn’t fulfill that desire. Instead, I went to college for a year and became a teacher. At the time, I remember being disappointed that I would not go into the medical field, and teaching seemed more practical. I was very lucky to have been able to afford a whole year in college as not many could afford more than six weeks in college. At the age of 17, I set off for Ireland’s Eye to become a teacher. Luckily for me, teaching was something I truly enjoyed, and I spent over 40 years in the teaching profession.
I found, through teaching, my purpose in life. I loved reading and I quickly realized I had a knack for helping students. I loved seeing the students’ knowledge grow and I was proud of my connection with them. It only took me a couple of months to forget about wanting to be a doctor, and to be honest, I never looked back. I think I was very lucky to have found a career that filled my soul. Teaching didn’t feel like work for me because I received as much from my students as they got from me. The connection I felt with my students was remarkable and even though some days were tougher than others, I never regretted not going to medical school.
I have thousands of former students who I remember very fondly, and even though teaching wasn’t my first love, it quickly became very rewarding. I truly loved teaching and I have often said I would do it again for free if the powers that be would let me! My chosen path for life was the medical field, but obviously it wasn’t God’s plan for me.
Through my teaching I could see that every one one of my students had a path to follow. Not all of them would go to university. Not all of them were academically inclined. Not all of them were successful academically, but all of them had an influence on me. Many students I taught gave me another perspective on life. They affected me, changed me and made me a better person.
I think my experience with my students, in many ways, parallels my experience with my faith. I’ve spent a lifetime reaching out to God and Jesus Christ. I’ve tried to understand the teachings of our Lord and Saviour. I have spent many hours with my fellow Christians trying to live up to God’s expectations for me and my life. I’ve trusted him to guide me through life and help me with my journey here on earth. As I tried to guide my students to be successful, God has guided my life and my deep faith.
As Christians, we need only to allow God to work through us and with us, to find our purpose. God provides the answers we are looking for to enrich our lives. As I often said to my students, just listen and open your mind: have faith and you will flourish!
God bless you all!