GREENWICH, Conn. -- As Greenwich Public School teachers prepare for the first day of class on Thursday, they will be able to recall advice on how teachers can inspire and make a difference in their students' lives.
Last Friday, the teachers gathered at Greenwich High School in the new musical instruction space and auditorium (MISA) to prepare for a new school year.
Among the speakers was Interim Schools Superintendent Salvatore Corda, who called himself the "new kid on the block."
He replaced William McKersie, who has become the superintendent ofthe Weston Public Schools.
"My job is to do the best that I can so that you can do your job," he said as he spoke about the role teachers play in their students' lives.
"The impact that you make on kids lasts positively or negatively for the rest of their lives," he added. "It is as simple as that. The difference that you make on the life of a young person is going to stay with them for the rest of their lives."
Corda spoke about his time as a middle school teacher when he began his educational career.
He said there was an overweight 6-foot-2, 13-year-old boy named John in his class who was going through a difficult time in school and on the playground.
"As middle school kids can do they were somewhat cruel to John," Corda said. "Despite the fact that John had this big body his voice had really not changed and that made it even worse so John would come and hang out in my class at lunchtime and whatever, a nice, sweet kid. We would sit, and we would talk."
John continued through school, and Corda said he lost touch with him until one day when he was superintendent in Norwalk about nine or 10 years ago. His office received a phone call and his secretary told hold him the name. Corda said the name sounded familiar, and he took the call.
It was John, now an attorney in Kansas City, married with a couple of children.
"He said, 'I want to tell you the difference that you made because I was in a very bad way when I was in the eighth grade. It was only because you let me hang out that I was able to get through it.' "
"I started teaching in 1969 and this kid tracked me down to say, 'Thank you.' So when I say to you you are the most powerful people in the town of Greenwich I'm not blowing smoke at you," Corda said. "I believe that. I absolutely believe that to the very fibre of my being.
"The work that teachers do, as much as it is important about teaching calculus and teaching Spanish and teaching history and teaching art and music and all the things that we do, they are not going to remember us because that is what we taught them. They are going to remember us because we made a difference in their lives."
Sarah Goldin, GPS representative for Connecticut Teacher of the Year, also spoke of a teacher's impact on a student. She spoke about a previous convocation when she received a text message from a former student showing her new dorm room at university.
In it the student thanked her for all Goldin's help stating she would not have been able to attend university without it.
"Make a mental list of every time that a student or their family has reached out to you or gone out of their way...to let you know that you matter, that your relationship to them was meaningful and contributed to their life in some way," she said.