“Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s been 24 years since I first walked through the doors at the old Maple Street School for my first day of kindergarten class with Mrs. Stauffer. 24 YEARS. And yet still to this day when I see any of my former teachers around town, I still refer to them as Mr. or Mrs. “insert last name here.” The respect and gratitude I have for them grows stronger with each passing year. Along with my parents and grandparents, they molded me into who I am today.
I firmly believe that is true for 99.9% of us. Teachers, although no child will ever admit it while in school, are role models. The sports figures, movie stars, and singers get all of the attention, publicity, and praise, but it’s the teachers that influence us the most. Wide eyed, malleable minds watch them, learn from them, and are eventually molded by them. They are the definition of unsung heroes because without them we all would not be where we are at today.
September’s member of the month is technically not a teacher. She’s a principal. And if you remember your childhood days at all, if there was anyone you respected (and probably feared) more than a teacher, it was a principal. She just doesn’t have 30 or 40 little pairs of eyes on her on a daily basis; she has 250+. She’s constantly under the microscope. Every little action and every uttered word is an example for hundreds of children.
Angela Turcol could have easily become member of the month simply based off of her accomplishments at the gym. She’s made an amazing transformation, was a member of the team that won the BenGil Biggest Winner, and has been a constant fixture of the gym since day 1. However, those accomplishments pale in comparison to her accomplishments as a positive role model at BenGil Elementary.
She exemplifies what a role model should be. She carries herself with class, never losing her cool, never complaining, and never slacking off. She’s dedicated. She’s motivated. She’s not afraid of a little hard work. She’s quietly confident, comfortable with her abilities, but never giving the impression of superiority. She enjoys a challenge, never letting failure become discouraging, and never letting success breed complacency. When she talks, she talks with a quiet respect, never raising her voice and always looking you in your eyes. The spotlight doesn’t appeal to her; positive changes do. She doesn’t do things for personal benefit; she sees the bigger picture. Her public persona matches her personal persona. No hidden skeletons. Who you see at school and at the gym is who she is.
Angela Turcol is our member of the month because she’s a role model not just for the kids at the BenGil Elementary, but she’s a role model for us. She’s a reminder that positive role models still do exist, even when television, sports, and the internet have all but unveiled the hidden secrets of “popular” role models. She’s a reminder that actions speak so much louder than words. She’s a reminder that you can have an amazing, long lasting effect on someone in a split second performing a mundane task without even knowing it. She’s a reminder why I want to send my kids to BenGil Elementary.
Most importantly, she reminds us that we’re visual learners. We sit in class, watch the teacher solve the problem, and then we do it. We mimic what we see. It’s the same in the classroom as it is on the basketball court. So why would it be any different for building character and morals? Thank goodness for teachers (a principal in this situation) that practices what she preaches!