Four Traits of a Great Teacher

My dad passed away recently. He was 86. As time goes by, my heart and brain think and ponder about all of the life lessons he taught me.

Even at 86, he was the type man who made you want to sit up and listen when he spoke. He did not have a college degree, but he said his degree was the one he learned while doing life. He was smarter than most of us who hold the paper diploma in hand or post it on the wall.

He was not a certified teacher, but his traits listed below are a "must" if you want to be a successful teacher:

• A great teacher can mesmerize an audience with a great story, and he was the best I have ever heard. He told jokes and stories to audiences in business meetings, Sunday School classes, and to anyone who would listen. Most of the time you left with tears streaming down your face from laughing so hard. Learn to be a great story teller and make it a special part of your agenda.

• My dad was a people ALL people. He was the president of a large company, yet he was comfortable in "chit chat" to the night cleaning crew or the CEOs of large companies that he met along the way each day. He had the ability to make people feel important, yet very comfortable in his presence. That ability is a gift very few people possess, but so important in a school setting.

• "It's taking the time to take care of the little things that make a difference, and don't you ever forget that," he always told me. That philosophy drives me today. When the little things come together, the big things seem to follow.

• Dad went the extra mile and always gave back more than he took away. Besides working two jobs much of his early career, he worked tirelessly in his community serving as mayor, volunteering in the Chamber of Commerce and local school district. It's important to be aware of the other people around you and offer an extra hand or encouraging word when they need it most. Be a giver, not a taker.

Thanks, Dad, for teaching me important life lessons that make good, effective, successful and passionate teachers. I am teaching in higher education with several degrees hanging in my office, and yet... you are the role model that I still emulate today.