Callis: A Geography Lesson I’ll Never Forget | Columnists


Mrs. Hopkins was my seventh-grade geography teacher. A pleasantly plump lady, she was kind, witty, easy-going – nothing seemed to irritate or upset her. So you can imagine my surprise when she sent me to the principal’s office for calling her by her nickname.

Admitting, without excuse, that I committed the offence, the vice principal explained that teachers should be respected by their students and explained why my action was considered disrespectful. It made complete sense to me; there was really no need to add three strokes to the conference! It was the first time and the only time I was going to paddle in the principal’s office.

To be honest, it wasn’t my fault at all. I was a good boy, and definitely not a troublemaker. A few friends and I were talking one day about how funny Mrs. Hopkins was, and they told me that was the reason for her nickname: Sugar Bear. They added that she liked being called by her nickname; so, I did. Yeah, those guys were wrong!

It was humiliating to apologize to her afterwards. Maybe she didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t mean to disrespect her. It would have been pointless to blame others for my naive behavior, but I did my best to show him my sincerity. I loved him very much and felt bad when I realized what I had done.

I remember how embarrassed I felt when I walked back into the classroom amid stares and snickers from my classmates. Nonetheless, I’m grateful that Ms. Hopkins reminded me that while a little humor is okay, there’s always a line that shouldn’t be crossed. I learned a lesson!

Three years later, at an open house at school, my 10th grade health teacher, Coach Carson, complimented me on my parents. In essence, he said, “I love having Spike in my class. He likes to cut a lot, but he knows when to stop. He knows when it’s time to get serious. Thank you, Coach Carson, and thank you, Mrs. Hopkins!

When was the last time you thanked a teacher? If your children are no longer in school, it might be your grandchild’s teacher. Or, maybe you could find a teacher from your past who really impacted your life and offer a thank you note all these years later. A similar gesture would be appropriate for a coach, Sunday school teacher, pastor or work supervisor.

We did not get where we are alone. Many people have had an influence on our journey so far. Let us remember them, by name if possible, and be grateful.

Steven Callis is a pastor at the First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.

Steven Callis is a pastor at the First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.


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