Nobody inspires us more than our wonderful teachers, who can help us discover ourselves and realize our potential. They work with love and care to show us that what seems impossible can become reality.
Today, we’ll look at some inspiring stories about great teachers and the lives of their students who went on to become world-famous figures.
Les Brown: “It’s Possible!”
Les Brown is a renowned motivational speaker and a well-known researcher on self-improvement and goal setting. He also served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives (1976-1981). However, Brown didn’t come from a privileged background. Born with a twin brother in an abandoned building in Liberty City, a poor neighborhood of Miami, Florida, Brown had a tough childhood.
When he started school, Brown encountered many difficulties in his studies. He was cruelly classified as “mentally retarded” and had to repeat the 5th grade. To make things harder, he had a very smart and talented twin brother. Because of this, his friends always made fun of Les when comparing him with his brother, calling him “the dumb twin.”
Motivational speaker Les Brown (Facebook/ Les Brown)
One day, a teacher asked him to the board to solve a problem, but Les refused, and when pressed, sadly had to say that he couldn’t. “Of course you can. Come on, son, come over to the board and solve this problem please!”, the teacher encouraged him.
“But I can’t,” Les insisted, “I’m mentally disabled.” The whole class burst out laughing. Right then, the teacher stepped forward and looked Les straight in the eyes, telling him in a strong, determined voice: “Please never repeat that. What others think about you is not your truth.”
Les never forgot those words.
Amazingly, he spent the following years overcoming his learning disability, pursuing his goals with passion and enthusiasm. Each time he faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge, Les recalled his teacher’s words and relocated his fierce determination. This powerful motto empowered Les to move forward. He has lived a genuine life and lives as an example of the wisdom he shares with others: “You have greatness in you.”
Emily Blunt: an acting career that almost didn’t happen
Emily Blunt is a famous actress who has won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for her performances. However, few people know that from the time she was 7 until she was 14, she had a terrible stutter that made having even a simple conversation difficult.
In an interview with W Magazine, she said: “I was a smart kid, and I had a lot to say, but I just couldn’t say it. I never thought I’d be able to sit and talk to someone like I’m talking to you right now.”
Actress Emily Blunt (Imgur)
Fortunately, Emily had at least one person on her side, her high school teacher. They helped Emily overcome her speech impediment and encouraged her to try taking on a role in the school play. At first, Emily didn’t dare try out, but her teacher patiently encouraged her to take acting lessons and try different characters’ accents.
Finally, Emily’s and her teacher’s efforts paid off. Besides remarkably successful acting career, Emily has also given back to others by becoming a board member of The American Institute for Stuttering, whose efforts she proudly advocates.
Maya Angelou: from an abusive childhood to renown as a poet and activist
Before Maya Angelou became a famous writer, actress, and human rights activist, she had to overcome a difficult childhood that haunted her for many years. At a very young age, she suffered from racism, a broken family, and above all, tremendous abuse from her mother’s alcoholic boyfriend. The result of all this trauma was that Angelou remained mute until the age of 5.
One day, a glimmer of light came into her life thanks to a family friend, a teacher named Bertha Flowers. Angelou believed that it was Flowers who helped her find her voice.
RIP Maya Angelou pic.twitter.com/S4MYv51iag
— LaMarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) May 28, 2014
Famous writer and actress Maya Angelou (Twitter/ LaMarcus Aldridge)
In her autobiography, Angelou recalls Flowers’s encouragement. Flowers complimented the young Angelou for her love of reading. She also taught the young girl about the importance of study, challenging her to read poems in order to regain her voice. Above all, Flowers always patiently encouraged Angelou and loved her young student with all her heart.
As Angelou said: “I was loved, and how does that make a difference? I was loved not because of my connection with someone, but because of who I was.”
Through her relationship with this unexpected teacher, Angelou was introduced to female African American artists such as Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset. In addition to these women that she could look up to, she also learned about the classics, encountering the work of Dickens, Shakespeare, and Poe among other famous authors, which made a great impact on her personal perspective and writing career.
Angelou always remembered her teacher, and she has also become an educator herself, in part to pay tribute to her beloved teacher. She always remembered: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Teachers can make the most of us, and with their help, we can become the very best versions of ourselves and a true inspiration to others.
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