Meet Mr. Joffee, fourth-grade teacher and living proof that teachers change lives.
A few months ago, I shared a story on Upworthy about how my fourth-grade teacher changed my life.
He gifted me with a lifelong love of learning, and he was a patient and compassionate mentor during one of the most difficult times of my childhood.
After the story came out, I was surprised to see so many shares, comments, messages, and emails from people who knew my teacher personally.
Monte Joffee is remembered by many of his students as a teacher who inspired them, no matter how long its been since they were in his class.
Many people posted about him, and many more encouraged me to reconnect with my teacher.
Gonzalo Obelleiro, Ph.D., told me: Monte genuinely loves people. He consistently shows interest in individual persons, in the unique point of view they have to offer, regardless of whether they write Ph.D. after their name, the jargon they use, or the shoes they wear. As a younger scholar I often felt the pressure to have to prove my worth amongst colleagues, but Monte always treated me as an equal. Despite his superior knowledge and experienceor because of it, I am sure he would sayhe is the perennial student, always excited to learn even from his own students and juniors.
Dr. Joffee (who insists that I call him Monte from now on) is retired now, but his passion for education burns brighter than ever.
He is working on a national K-12 education reform proposal called “The Will to Achieve.” Monte believes this proposal will revolutionize American education by re-welcoming parents, communities, supporters, and entrepreneurs into the education tent. It will enable students to become autodidactic learners.
“The Will to Achieve” will also rebuild the schoolhouse in communities where there has been an uneasy match between the people and the school.
When I asked Monte to estimate how many students he had inspired throughout his career, we were both surprised when the number added up to about 7,600.
What if even a third of those students went on to make the same type of impact he made? Do teachers know how many lives they touch and how many people they inspire to do just as they do? Do they know that the children in front of them will remember those compassionate moments and valuable life lessons when they become adults? Do they know that they arent just teaching they are building character, sculpting hope, and helping to raise young men and women?
An African proverb says it takes a village to raise a child. Teachers like Monte prove that sometimes, the greatest inspiration can come from just one person in that village.