James Copeland is 46 but the words of the lady who taught him when he was only 10 have stuck in his mind since his childhood.
The Victorian bank worker was recently announced as the winner of a competition to head into space on the Virgin Galactic spaceship. The win means that he will realise a childhood dream but as well as carrying that dream for the last 36 years, he’s carried the words of the teacher who told him he was dreaming the impossible dream.
Her words were so powerful that as well as feeling the excitement of his upcoming adventure, he felt the need to show his teacher that his hopes were quite possible after all.
Copeland was so excited to find out that his childhood dream will soon become a reality, that he set about finding a primary school teacher who he says had called his dream impossible. – NEWS.com.au
Scott tracked her down to tell her the good news and to prove that dreams really can come true.
“It was great that she actually remembered me although she couldn’t specifically recall our banter about me becoming an astronaut but she did vaguely recall my fascination with space travel in general,” he said. “She was ultimately thrilled for me that I am getting this opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream.
“She did say that she probably should have been more supportive of my dreams back then, although I suggested it’s not like I aced physics at school for this opportunity to become an astronaut and the reality is I ended up in banking rather than working at NASA.” – NEWS.com.au
I’ve often heard people talking about the amazing teachers they’ve had and the difference they’ve made in their lives. While I’m glad that there are many amazing teachers around the world who have been such incredible motivators and role models for others, whenever I hear people talking about them I must admit to feeling some sadness. I never had one of those wonderful teachers.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have fond memories of some teachers. I remember having Miss Van Kampen for the first two years of school back at Wembley Downs Primary School. If I remember correctly she drove a green VW Beetle. I think my Grade 3 teacher was Mrs McGrade. It all becomes a bit of a blur after that. I can’t think who I had in Grades 4 and 5. I think it was Mr Paganini for Grade 6 but I seem to remember he was also a Deputy Headmaster so he shared the teaching duties with another teacher.
Words that Scar
My memories of some teachers may be hazy but there are some things I do recall. I certainly remember my Grade 7 teacher. Richard Phillips was a very sporty kind of teacher. He coached the school’s football and cricket teams. I guess he didn’t like me much because I wasn’t a sporty kind of kid.
I thought he was kind of cool …. until the day he yelled at me in front of the class that I was a ‘drip’ who would never amount to anything in life. That seemed to take the shine off things for me.
My life may not be a blazing comet lighting up the skies but I reckon things are pretty good. I have a beautiful wife and two incredible children who I love more than words can say. I have great friends and a very fulfilling job.
His words haven’t really overshadowed my life to any great degree, nor have they been motivation to do well and prove him wrong, but I know those words cut deeply at the time and my mind still returns to them from time to time.
So why is it that 40 years after the event those words still hurt? Why did Scott Copeland feel that it was so important to find the teacher who told him his dream was impossible?
The Power of Our Words
I wonder if we truly understand the power of our words, especially when we’re talking to children. It’s easy to cause major harm just by the things we say but on the other hand, we have the power to speak words that heal. Our encouragement and words of affirmation can help shape people and can be major building blocks in young lives.
I’m not sure that I’m particularly good at using my words as well as I can but I do hope that my words won’t tear others down.
We all have the choice to build others up with our words or to leave scars that may never heal. I hope and pray that we make the right choices with our words.
Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. – Ephesians 4:29 (GNT)
Do you remember the words of someone significant when you were growing up? Did someone speaks words of life for you or harmful words?