As we prepare for a new school year, I was sitting here thinking about how those GOOD TEACHERS during my primary, secondary and collegiate years really made a difference in my life.
But what really made them great? I knew that in each case, they encouraged me to learn even when I didn’t want to learn; they acknowledged and made me feel special, even, if they thought that I was a challenge. As I look back over my life, the teacher may not have been the easiest teacher but they found something deep within, planted a seed and fostered growth.
I just want to acknowledge a small group of my teachers who made a difference in my life:
Mrs. Rosette Wells – My Grade 1 teacher at Ridgeland Primary School. She was an EXCELLENT TEACHER. I still get excited to see her. (She has now retired to Cat Island and I am sure made a difference there);
Ms. Garnell Burrows – my Grade 6 teacher at St. Thomas More Catholic Primary (I was the challenged student in the class and she volunteered to tutor me, so that I would not be left behind.);
Mrs. Judith Adderley – my Grade 7 Math Teacher (The HARDEST TEACHER IN THE WORLD) I didn’t like math and she didn’t care, you had to learn in her class;
Mrs. Roxanne Chipman – My Reading Specialist from Grade 7 (I think I did move a few levels up in reading)
Ms. Sharon Poitier – My 11th Grade Social Studies Teacher (Don’t let her looks fool you, she was your friend but don’t appreciate students wasting time in her class. If you did, it was all over. I got a greater appreciation for history from her class.)
Mrs. Eva Douglas-Sands – My 11th Grade Literature Teacher ( Why did we have to take this subject is beyond me and Mrs. Douglas-Sands was a rough teacher but behind the roughness was a caring teacher.)
Mrs. Zoie Miller-Powell – My high school Guidance Counselor (Counselors have an opportunity to change a life; I knew that I was one of her most challenging cases. I was broken, I lack self-esteem, I was angry of the fact that I had to attend a public school, I had ISSUES. You can truly say that I was wearing a mask and she was able to help rebuild a broken child);
Mr. Charles “Chuck” Mackey – My high school Senior Master (He was able to get me into R. M. Bailey at the last minute and took an interest in my welfare. Although I think he was disappointed that I was not an athlete, seeing that my father was a BIG sports fan);
It is truly amazing because not all GOOD TEACHERS are in the classroom. During the 1983/84 school year, I had an opportunity to be apart of Junior Achievement, a 26 week business training program. I had the good fortune to have been selected for a company sponsored by Resorts Internationals, Paradise Island. There were three individuals who were business executives at Resorts but on a weekly basis came to R. M. Bailey Senior High School for two - three hours to expose about 20 students to some business practices. I am grateful to Mr. Rudy Gardiner, Mrs. Andrea Major and Mrs. Cynthia Carter-Sealy. Thanks for the sacrifices that you made on my behalf.
When I went to college there were five professors who expected more, tolerated less and had an UNFAIR view (My opinion at the time) of what I was supposed to be achieving. These five educators can take credit for me graduating from Bethune-Cookman with a degree in Psychology with Honors. Although, I didn’t really appreciate how hard they were on me then, they made a difference in my life – Thanks to Dr. Ann Taylor, Dr. Yvonne Mahy, Dr. Mary Alice Smith, Dr. Jose Hernandez and Ms. Joan Thompson. (Thanks to Dr. Ann Taylor and Ms. Joan Thompson, I can say that I received a 3.83 during my first semester in my Freshman Year and was prepared for my latter years at BCC).
Can you imagine, a child who repeated the eighth grade, flunked out of his private school in the tenth grade, graduated from a public school, not as a honor roll student but with grades good enough to get into college, could graduate from college as an honor student?
So, you see… Good Teacher makes a difference in their student’s life.
There is a need for us to learn to praise the Lord as much for a closed door as we do an open door. The reason God closes doors is because He has not prepared anything over there for us.
If HE didn't close the wrong door, we would never find the right door. God directs our path through the closing and opening of doors. One door closes, it forces you to change your course. He closes another door, it forces you to change your course again. Then finally, after a season of close doors, you find the open door and you walk right into your blessing. The Lord directs our paths through these opening and closing of doors, but instead of praising him for the closed door (which keeps us out of trouble and meeting some unexpected challenges), we get upset because we thought that we were suppose to finally walk into our season by the very appearance of the situation. (I've been through a few close door experiences that I was upset at first but then I realize that God didn’t open that door for me.)
Some closed doors are also opportunity for growth and development.
I have two personal leadership testimonies about close door experiences.
First, I am a member of a Fraternity in which I ran for the presidency of the local chapter, not once, not twice but three times. The first time I was not upset but by the second time, I was not a happy camper. I had vowed NEVER to seek that office again.
Due to the local door being closed, I was able to be elected President of the local NPHC Council (the governing body of all fraternities and sororities). I was able to use my skills in assisting the local council in becoming chartered. I became the Charter President of the first international NPHC Council. I went on to spend four (4) years as National First Vice-President (first international council member to serve in an international leadership role).During my tenure, I had the opportunity to develop some excellent leadership and networking skills.
This assisted me in making a difference when I finally ascended to the local presidency of the Fraternity. I was able to improve the operations of the chapter, increase the number of active financial members on the roll (the highest in the chapter history), hold a membership intake (the 1st in 10 years) and establish some important partnership. Due to my work as local chapter president, I was identified by the International President to serve in his Cabinet, becoming the first Bahamian to serve in a senior level position in the Fraternity.
Most of us spend so much time talking, crying, getting sick, grieving and being angry about the closed door in our lives, we don’t see the open door. Les Brown, legendary human-potential expert, says our trials and disappointments can take us all to a door of discovery and greatness.
My second close door experience happened in October 2003. I had prepared to ascend to the presidency of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. I would have made history as the first individual outside of the United States to ascend to the presidency. Despite running a well organized campaign, I was rejected at the polls. I was disappointed for five minutes and then I realize that this close door happened for a reason. I never fully understood the reason for the closed door until about nine months later (Isn't it amazing how God works, he allowed nine months of incubation) when along with a group of other excited individuals came together and organized The Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation. You see, between 1997 – 2004, the Student of the Year Committee worked hard in organizing the annual Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Awards Program and raised some $50,000.00 in scholarships and prizes. However, after the establishment of the Foundation in 2004, we were able to solicit over $450,000.00 in scholarships and prizes for deserving primary school students in The Bahamas. Because the international leadership door was closed in 2003, I was able focus my attention on making a difference in The Bahamas.
Along with Foundation Board Chairman Cyndi Williams-Rahming, I was able to lead a dynamic Board of Directors as its President & CEO. I can now look back at this closed door experience and say that my community is better because of it. Yes, I benefitted from an outstanding leadership training that prepared for my current assignment. Over 1,000 students have benefitted because of this "closed door" experience.
So Leaders, You may have been terminated from your job that you assisted in developing - praise God for the new opportunities that will be or was manifested because of this closed door. If you are a member of your civic, fraternal, political or religious organization and a door closed. Be thankful because God is preparing a new assignment for you.
If you were waiting to hear from an agency that has frustrated you totally or denied you, remember, God is working this situation out in HIS time.
I would therefore like to encourage you, as I encourage myself that whenever a door appears to close in your face (and there have been a few for me and as long as you live, there will be a few for you), be encouraged because God is sending you in another direction. Sometimes HE is just closing the wrong door for the right reason and season. I therefore leave you with these powerful words: “Commit to the Lord in whatever you do and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:3) Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) 'The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.' (Psalms 37:23) The Mountain top is glorious, but it is in the Valley that I will grow!
Always Remember God gives you... Enough Happiness to keep you Going Enough Trials to keep you Strong Enough Sorrows to keep you Human Enough Hope to keep you Happy Enough Failure to keep you Humble Enough Success to keep you Eager Enough Friends to give you Comfort Enough Wealth to meet your Needs Enough Enthusiasm to make you look forward Enough Faith to banish depression Enough Determination to make each day a better day than the last. and Enough Honey to keep you Sweet Life must be lived forward but can only be understood backwards. If you love God, share this and He will continue to open and close doors for you. Finally, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalms 46: 10 – 11)
Please feel free to share your "Closed door" experience, it may just help someone who is going through a battle at this hour.
Ricardo P. Deveaux is a Man of God, visionary leader, community activist and now a Blog Author. Please feel free to leave a comment.