President Obama's speech to America's school kids last week was extraordinary! Simple, straightforward, encouraging, challenging and very inspiring. (The L.A. Times said he combined the "tenacity of Vince Lombardi" with the "tenderness of Mr. Rogers.") As he stood before the beautifully multi-racial student body of Wakefield High School in Virginia, the President of the United Stated told all of our kids the truth: that life is tough and demands that we do our best at all times, but that each of us is smart and talented and that we can overcome setbacks and make our dreams come true through hard work and perseverance.
I recognized the timeless themes in President Obama's speech. So, as he spoke, I found myself giving thanks for the guidance, I'd received from parents, teachers and others from elementary school all the way through college.
I was blessed to have some pretty amazing teachers throughout my educational life. Ron Alexander and Don Roberts challenged and inspired me at Stanford University. At Muir high school I was fired up and pushed to excellence by teachers like Mrs. Rosemary Smith, Dr. Riherd, Dave Creeth and Mr. Zweers along with counselors Mr. John Rodriguez and Mrs. Eddie Newman and Coach Jim Brownfield.
But no one was more singularly inspiring to me than my first grade teacher, Mrs. Maurice Morse. She nurtured self-confidence and a love of learning in her classroom at Audubon Elementary School in Altadena (just west of Lincoln on Altadena Drive, now the site of Odyssey Charter School). Mrs. Morse was kind, patient, fun and always expected the best from her students. She was one of those teachers who made you want to excel and who helped you believe that you could. Several times a day she would ask us, "How do we act in this classroom?" The answer she taught us was simple yet profound: "Intelligent!" That single word instilled pride and reminded us that we were responsible for our behavior and that we should think before we act.
That lesson has been a guiding principal throughout my life. To this day, when facing intimidating challenges or when tempted to make excuses or cave in to self-doubt, I often remember Mrs. Morse's life lesson: "How do we act? Intelligent!" That usually gets me back on track.
Thank you, Mrs. Morse. Thank you to all the selfless men and women - teachers, principals, PTA parents, administrators, aides, office managers, community volunteers, counselors, coaches, custodians, cafeteria servers, et al - everyone who has dedicated themselves to helping our kids learn, grow, believe in themselves, to be happy and to become the very best in everything that they do!
May we all, always, act intelligent!Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents. THINK! IT AIN'T ILLEGAL...YET!