Sometimes, when we look at our world; the hardships, conflicts, challenges, and obstacles that we deal with every day, we can become jaded and discouraged. This is, often, especially true for those of us who teach because the impact of what we do is rarely realized in the moment, where we might see it.

I believe that teachers make a difference. And what teachers DO makes a difference.

I close many of my presentations with this affirmation, but something happened recently that brought this all back home in a very profound and special way.

On April 3rd, 2015, my friend, colleague, mentor, adopted uncle; the man I met at 19 as I aspired to be a teacher attending his “make and take” workshops, passed away at the age of 82.

In 1994, Fritz Bell gave me a chance to present my first workshop at his seminar house, Creative Classrooms. He helped me to understand not only myself, but my ENFP son (Fritz was ENFP) and touched my life in ways that I can’t even measure. I love this man so intensely, from a place in my heart so deep it’s endless. I’m broken hearted.

But you know what’s really beautiful? Every single memory that flits through my mind as I process his loss is a positive one. There is not one memory that is not poignant, sweet, caring, funny, or meaningful. I could go on and on. Reading comments on his Facebook page in the days following his passing reinforces what an incredible impact this one man had on so many lives — and then the lives of those they touched — like a domino effect spreading across the world. Whether it is my own experiences with Fritz or the story of one man who had him as a teacher in Australia, over 50 years ago; so many people are telling their stories of the impact this ONE man had on their lives.

I feel so fortunate to have had all those rides in the car with him to educational events and board meetings… all the time we spent planning workshops together… all the visits we had… all the hugs… and of course, sharing our love of ice cream. I treasure every single moment and every single memory.

So, think back to your formative years. Close your eyes and remember one person in your life who made a significant difference for you. For most of us, there is at least one. That difference may have been made by a teacher, coach, parent, minister, counselor, or some other significant person. It may have been because of a single incident or conversation, or it may have been a long term relationship.

Now ask yourself, “Does that person know what a difference he or she made in my life?” Many times they don’t. Many times the lessons learned weren’t even realized by you until you much later in life.

When you get discouraged in your attempts to help your students, to reach them with your message, remember that one person in your life that made a difference for you and BELIEVE, beyond a shadow of a doubt, YOU make a difference for youth, every… single… day.

And… finally, if the person that made a difference in YOUR life is still alive and well, consider taking the time to reach out and let that person know what he or she meant to you.

One person CAN make a difference. That person is you. You only need to believe you CAN.