Read time: 5 minutes

Valuing Our Mentors

Feb 19 / Todd Houston

Who are our mentors? Are mentors only for the young and inexperienced? Let’s disavow the old saying, “can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” to state what I’ve learned: mentors come and go throughout your life –  if you remain open to discovering those individuals in your professional and personal orbits who can serve as a guide, truth-teller, and, a mentor.

 

Looking back my teachers made very good mentors. By the time I reached high school, I was working for my hometown newspaper. It was published two times each week. Because of this experience, I knew that I wanted to be a journalist. I started to concentrate on my writing skills during high school.

 

This is where a teacher, Ms. Mildred Moore, taught me some valuable lessons. Moore was my English teacher and an excellent writer in her own right. With my pride in having written some articles that were published in the newspaper, I thought that I had mastered writing.

One time I had submitted a five-page paper as part of Ms. Moore’s class assignment. I thought every sentence and every word were perfect. I was sure that Ms. Moore would be amazed at the quality of my work.

 

A few days later, I was in a state of shock when I received a grade of B+. How could this be? I wrote the best paper of my life! I deserved to have an A on this paper. I met with Ms. Moore after class, and I explained why I was right, and she was very wrong in how she graded my paper. She asked, “Should I regrade it?” Of course, I said. In my mind, I had won the argument.

The next time I entered the classroom, she called me over to her desk. I sat down at my desk and slowly unrolled my paper to see my new grade – C! In that moment, I learned another valuable lesson: don’t let your ego prevent you from learning. I met with her again after school and I sincerely apologized for my behavior. She accepted my apology and you can be sure I never got anything lower than an A on my papers after that.

 

I credit Ms. Moore for teaching me how to write, not only the technical aspects but also how to really develop an idea. I did go on to major in journalism as my undergraduate degree in college, but I didn’t learn to write there.

When I think about the process of writing, I think about Ms. Moore. She taught me to love the process and how to appreciate the final product. I will always be grateful to her for her many, many lessons. Most importantly, she taught me humility and that we always have more to learn.

 

Mr. Wayne Worthy, another high school teacher, also became a mentor to me. Growing up I felt that I had a good foundation in history, but even with that strong foundation, Mr. Worthy brought life all of the events he discussed in class.

He helped me see that actions have consequences. Really big actions by a people or country can have lasting effects for generation after generation.

 

At the beginning of my junior year, Mr. Worthy quickly recruited me to work with the yearbook staff as he was the faculty advisor. Mr. Worthy understood my passion for photography and writing. He later asked if I wanted to be the editor-in-chief of the yearbook as I was a rising senior.

I was shocked but honored that he asked me to do this. He would tell me later that I exhibited leadership skills that were rare in most high school students.

 

As my senior year started with my new role with the yearbook, I quickly began to have some concerns. We didn’t have our page layouts completed, copy wasn’t written, and we didn’t have some of the photographs that were required.

I met with Mr. Worthy. I had hoped that he would step in, to come down hard on my editors who were slacking off. In the end, he asked what I was going to do.

 

As the editor-in-chief, I knew changes had to happen, and those changes needed to happen quickly. I did something no one expected. I turned to my editors, and I said that 6 of the 7 could leave, and that someone else would be taking over their responsibilities. Then, I assigned editor roles to the hardworking underclassmen that earned this responsibility.

Did I lose some friendships over these decisions? Yes, some of my classmates expressed disappointment, but I explained that I had to do something, or we wouldn’t have a yearbook at the end of our senior year.

Most of them begrudgingly understood and a couple of them even apologized for their severe case of “senioritis” that caused their procrastination.

 

Mr. Worthy was the first person outside of my family who recognized that I had leadership potential. He allowed me to make mistakes, but he also didn’t step in to solve any problems. He was a great listener. He would give advice if I asked him directly.

Not only did he have confidence in me and allowed me to grow as a leader, but he also taught me being a good listener is often undervalued.

 

As an adult, I’ve had many people who served as mentors to me either officially or unofficially at a distance. However, I have to state a simple fact. I think my life would have been very different if I hadn’t had Ms. Moore and Mr. Worthy as teachers.

I don’t think I would have been as successful in life. I feel extremely fortunate to have learned from them at an early age. Both of these teachers saw something in me and challenged me in ways that made me grow not only as a student but as an individual.

 

I’m thankful that Ms. Moore and Mr. Worthy didn’t traffic in stereotypes. I was a poor, white country boy, and these were the best teachers I could have had; they just happened to be African-Americans. They didn’t look at me and assume anything.

They just saw a student with some potential and then worked to help me see the same thing and to believe in my own abilities. I will always love them for that.

 

Mr. Worthy would often speak of W.E.B. Du Bois, the famous American civil rights leader, author, sociologist, writer and editor. Mr. Du Bois said, “Either the United States will destroy ignorance, or ignorance will destroy the United States.”

 

This month, as part of Black History Month, let’s work together to destroy the ignorance that is increasingly becoming more pervasive in our national dialogue. If we don’t, we’ll destroy the potential of so many of our citizens, and with them, we’ll lose the collective potential of our great nation.

 

You’ve certainly experienced loneliness, right?. But did you know about its long-term effects?

Former surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, claims that: 

"People who struggle with loneliness end up living shorting lives…are at an increased risk for heart disease, depression, dementia, anxiety, and a host of other conditions.”

Now that statement makes you stop and think, “I don’t want that.” Now to clarify, loneliness isn’t inherently wrong; each one of us needs time alone. It also is not entirely based on how big or small your social network encompasses. Instead, loneliness becomes an issue when it turns into something more chronic.

Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, Julianne Holt- Lunstad, defines loneliness as

"…the discrepancy between our actual level of social connection and our desired level of connection.”

You see, what’s haunting about loneliness is that it shows no prejudice based on race, class, or gender. Anyone can feel lonely, even if it seems like they would be the last person to experience it.


The idea of loneliness can heavily impact not just a person’s physical health but mental health too. Support systems feel like they’re breaking down. All you feel is isolation. Self-preservation takes over.


The point of learning about the effects of loneliness shouldn’t make you dismayed. Instead, it should inform you to protect yourself against chronic loneliness better and assist others when they could feel lonely. Loneliness indicates that we should be connecting with others to live in a community.


Think about what community means or looks like to you:
  • What does community look like to me? In-person? Digital?
  • What are some communities that I could be a part of based on shared interests?


Try to identify what friends you connect with most:

  • Which friends do you connect with the most? Why?
  • Should I start making a weekly or monthly time to hang out more with this friend?


Or you could start making new connections at the park, an event, at school. Anywhere. On the flip side, give people grace when they might be feeling lonely. Their distance and bad behavior may be symptoms of a more significant issue they are internalizing. Better yet, ask them if they need help with anything. You could brighten their day.

If you or someone else you know ever starts feeling loneliness in the worst way, breathe. Realize that often it’s a temporary phase that can be resolved by leaning on old connections or creating new ones. Of course, dealing with loneliness is a personal process. Take your time.

There is no shame in feeling lonely. However, we should remember to do our best to avoid the type of loneliness that affects physical and mental health because there is so much more life to live.

Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. That is the 3C way!

Thanks for reading,

~Katheryn

Note: This article is a summary and review of a piece done by Freakonomics Podcast. The source can be found here: https://freakonomics.com/podcast/loneliness/.

 

Please share our post!

STAY CONNECTED, RECEIVE OUR UPDATES DIRECTLY TO YOUR EMAIL.

Subscribe to
3C Digital Media Network Blogs

Thank you!

3C Digital Media Network, LLC will use the information you provide on this form to send you our blog posts and occasional information and updates on products, tools, and resources. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at connect@3cdigitalmedianetwork.com.

We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices, please visit our website at 3cdigitalmedianetwork.com. By clicking the Subscribe button, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

About the blogger

K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Todd is currently a Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Akron.

In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, Dr. Houston has been a photojournalist, an Executive Director/CEO of an international non-profit organization, a clinician, published author, researcher, and an academic. This professional journey has shaped a world-view that embraces diversity and supports engagement across cultures.

Dr. Houston has a passion for ensuring that others have an opportunity to fully express themselves.

Combining his journalism background with more than two decades of focused work with children and adults impacted by hearing loss, Dr. Houston has co-created a company that is committed to producing a range of content that informs and inspires.

Through the 3C Digital Media Network, Dr. Houston will bring together a diverse array of voices who can tell their stories and inspire others to be their very best selves.

Write your awesome label here.

Did you like this post?
Consider supporting 3C Digital Media Network Blogs.