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Teacher challenges students to ‘be the change’

Updated: October 14, 2012 2:03PM



‘It’s the reason why we teach,” she said with tears glistening in her eyes.

Those were the words of Valparaiso High School art teacher and Natural Helpers director Marilyn Hanson when she read the essay Jordan Galligan had written as a requirement for college admission.

Every teacher hopes to touch the hearts of students, and develop a belief in themselves and their abilities. It is a definite that Hanson has done just that for the “Jordans” in her care.

The quote she shares with her students, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” had a lasting impact on Galligan. Along with those words, Hanson’s positive encouragement as she praised him as a young leader with great potential to do great things gave him an inner delight.

To have a teacher voice such words to a 16-year-old is priceless — words that gave Galligan the courage to apply for the Rotary Youth Leadership conference.

After intense interviews and meetings, he learned that he was one of three VHS delegates chosen to attend the conference, an experience which became life-changing for him.

The Purdue student speaker at the conference, who shared the student-driven project from his high school days, made Galligan realize that he and his friends could make things happen at their school, too. Even more of an impact was formed when an AT&T representative asked the crowd of students about bullying and its negative effects.

As students relayed various “Can you top this?” bullying problems, Hanson’s quote entered Galligan’s mind, and he addressed the group suggesting that, rather than sharing all the negatives, they should be looking for solutions to eliminate bullying with positive behaviors.

Galligan described the CASS and Team LEAD programs implemented in the Valpo schools, and when those attending applauded, he felt a feeling of pride and accomplishment.

Once he returned home, he was amazed to find numerous messages asking for more information on how others could start similar programs.

Galligan knows the words Mrs. Hanson quoted to him may seem like a simple concept, but is not an easy one. He told me, “Be the change — those three words can truly make a difference in us all.”

With her words, Hanson lit a fire under him that will not be quenched, and although it humbles her to be recognized for her contribution to a young man’s life, she is certainly a pet person, and so is Galligan for striving to be the change. Congratulations to you both!

I doubt if there is anyone in our area — our country — who didn’t have at least a little heartfelt hurt remembering the horror of 9/11 eleven years ago, a day that will forever be remembered.

It would be a little less sad if there were no others losing their lives for our country. But young men and women are still fighting to keep us free to enjoy “one nation under God.”

My friend, Paula, asked if we would all keep the “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families in our prayers and thoughts as they continue fighting in Afghanistan. Nine Marines were killed in four days — all of them in their 20s.

Then I hope you have a great day because you deserve it.

Thanks for reading. Fly your flag.



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