By John Henry Ledwith | August 21, 2018
National Sales Manager, ETR
I heard a story last night that’s had me thinking about inspiration. I was at a performance of the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. The amazing Herb Pedersen told us about how he came to write one of the finest and most popular bluegrass songs ever, “Wait a Minute.”
Herb had been on the road playing with Johnny Rivers for eight weeks. When he got home—almost as he walked in the door—he got a call asking him to immediately join a nine-week tour with Jonathan Edwards. His wife looked at him and said, “Wait a minute! Did I hear you say you’re going on tour again?” A beautiful song was born.
We’ve got a lot of inspiration in our field, too. In fact, health and PE teachers are some of the most inspired folks I’ve ever met. And Herb Peterson got me thinking more about where the best teachers find their inspiration. There I was, humming "Wait a Minute," wondering how great teachers manage to get rejuvenated before the new school year starts. How they find unique ways to work with the different student personalities in every single classroom. How they keep that ship on course no matter what the configuration of students and policies and curricula might be.
Do small moments from the life of your family bring it to you? Do personal goals or challenges? Is it the opportunity to observe and solve a puzzle that builds your energy and makes the work more successful?
This past summer, I managed to persuade my whole family to run Santa Cruz’s 10K Wharf to Wharf race. My wife, my two adult sons and I all assembled at the start together. And frankly, that was the last time that morning that we were doing the same thing.
My younger son David trained for this event in a dedicated fashion, starting many months out to build his endurance and improve his time. I started training a couple of months back, mostly to be able to finish. My son Eli showed up that morning, said, “I think I’ll run,” and proceeded to run the whole course. And my wife Lisa joined the power walkers in the back of the pack.
This story inspires me. Each one of us made a decision to participate, and each made a declaration—“I am doing this thing.” And then we each did it in our unique way. We all reached our goal (and we have matching finisher T-shirts to prove it). But if we hadn’t chosen our own paths in preparing and carrying out this effort, I’m not sure we all would have crossed that finish line.
This is the way I see students, teachers, schools and districts. Each has a distinct path. The greatest success comes when the unique characteristics of the individual or system are matched to a practical plan to achieve a goal.
We all have the capacity to be inspired by our lives and the people and events around us. What stories and experiences influence you? How do you recognize the gift of inspiration when it comes your way? How do you take that energy and use it to inspire and motivate your students?
Like many of my favorite musicians, I’ll be back on the road myself soon. I hope to see many of you over the coming school year at conferences, presentations, trainings, or district visits. Meeting face-to-face with colleagues in the field is almost as good as touring with Johnny Rivers! If I’m lucky enough to meet you, I hope you’ll share some of those inspiration-fueling stories with me.
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year. I hope it’s fulfilling and inspired for you.
John Henry Ledwith is ETR’s National Sales Manager. He is an inveterate visitor to music venues all over the country. He can be reached at email@example.com.