Planting Seeds

June 2, 2010

I’m a pretty results-oriented guy. I like to see the benefits of what I’ve done relatively soon after working on it, and if I can’t see those results, I get a bit frustrated.

That’s why, at times this year, it’s been frustrating to be a teacher. You don’t always see results quickly. Sure, I’ve helped students get a good grade on this or that assignment, but ultimately, as a teacher, you don’t always see results today, tomorrow, next month, or even this year.

So, I find myself continually asking myself, “What real difference can I make?

Recently, I was bemoaning this to a friend of mine. She, however, was unimpressed. She said simply, “The fact that you are there is making a difference, Tom. You’re planting seeds. You probably won’t see whether those seeds grow, but they will. You are making a difference by planting, nurturing, and loving these seeds.”

She helped me realize that you don’t need to see the direct results in order to make a difference. Every little bit helps in the lives of children, and, no matter how frustrated I get, I need to realize that what I’m doing isn’t going to solve every problem, but it just might kick-start some growth into those seeds.

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Also, in cased you missed it, I’m fundraising for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and hiking the Appalachian Trail to travel to Dis-Orientation, our retreat to end our year of service. For my blog post and more information about it, CLICK HERE, or to go directly to the fundraising page, CLICK HERE. Thanks everyone! -Tom


The Old Man and the Starfish

October 22, 2009

At the beginning of the school year, Cristo Rey’s principal gave each teacher a coffee mug. At first, I was a bit puzzled, if not pleasantly surprised, to receive this gift, but after I opened it up and read what was on the mug, I realized the thinking behind it. Here’s what it said:

The Old Man and the Starfish

Every day, an old man walked the beach with a pail, picking up starfish that had been washed i by the tide, and throwing them back into the sea.

One day a young boy stopped the old man and asked, “Why do you throw the starfish back? It doesn’t matter. They will only wash up on the shore again tomorrow.”

The old man picked a starfish out of his pail, threw it as far as he could into the sea, and replied, “It mattered to that one.”


So, when you’re frustrated and wondering, “What difference can I make?” remember this story. We may not be able to save the world or every starfish and the starfish may be back on the beach tomorrow, but we can make a difference to many today. I like to think that the boy, inspired, joined the old man and began to throw the starfish back, doubling the starfish saved.

Imagine how many starfish we could help if we all joined the old man.