Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Impact of a Voice

"I don't think most teachers realize how much impact they have." Former Olympic Figure Skater, Scott Hamilton

When we think of teachers, our thoughts probably go to a room with rows of desks and chairs facing a large chalkboard. Then the distinct memory of a former teacher comes to mind. But there are many teachers around us outside a typical physical classroom. If you've made learning a lifelong habit you know this.

We now have virtual classrooms where our teachers can be individuals we've never met in person. Each year I am impacted by teachers because I make it a point to take classes on a continual basis whether they be a one hour webinar or an online course. This past year I took a painting class and right now I'm completing a Mastermind Group Leadership teleclass. You may be currently learning from a fitness instructor, a foreign language teacher or a pastor or rabbi. Whatever the setting, we can all attest to the fact that teachers play a very vital role in shaping us. Teachers are not just dispensers of information. We also learn from who they are and how they share themselves with us.

Yesterday, a former teacher of mine passed away. Her name was Judy Santos. Four years ago Judy was one of two teachers in a 40 hour training teleclass for those of us wanting to be life coaches. Judy and Chris McCluskey of the Institute for Life Coach Training, met with twenty of us twice a week by phone and guided and inspired us as we learned the foundational principles of life coaching.

I never got to meet Judy, face to face. Her phone voice had a raspy quality to it. Perhaps it was a result of the cancer treatments she'd had in the past which so often impact our senses. But, nonetheless, the sound of her voice was something that distinguished her along with her words and teaching style. Although she didn't talk about it much in the coach training setting, Judy had been through some deep valleys in life. In the course of one year she'd gone through several major life transitions. So when she explained coaching skills to her students, she surely knew what we'd need to know to work with people in transition.

Because she was future focused, as life coaching is, Judy's life was an example of someone who'd weathered storms and emerged with resilience and a determination to continue experiencing life to the fullest. It was obvious she had a keen business sense which she readily shared with us in a way that didn't elevate herself, but generously provided us with valuable insight. Her teaching was more than words. It was a way of life. One's voice doesn't mean just the sound of their utterances, but their ability to speak certain characteristics into our lives...things like courage, compassion, empowerment, challenge, and the enlarging of our perspectives. Judy modeled all these things for her students.

She said little about her latest bout with cancer, but we knew it was a struggle. No doubt she coached and taught as long as she could because it was such a passion of hers.
Even facing death, Judy was forward focused. Her Christian faith sustained her through her battle with cancer because she knew ahead of her was the joy of Heaven.

The thing about teachers is that their impact goes on for generations. Thanks for all you taught me, Judy. I am passing it on.

Photo: Joseph Helfenberger/

1 comment:

Kim Avery said...

Thanks for the fitting tribute to Judy. She will be missed.