This is a cautionary tale about my formative high school years and one person who had a tremendous impact on my life. I thoroughly enjoyed that time period, but certainly could – and should – have done things differently.
Dear Mr. Craigmile,
I wanted to thank you for being a great guidance counselor during my senior year of high school. We didn’t talk much, but you gave me some advice that has served me well since that last conversation so many years ago.
I remember you pulled out my transcript with all of my grades and college entrance exam scores, and told me several things I didn’t want to hear, back in the spring of 1977:
“You’re in the bottom third of your graduating class.” (out of approximately 700 seniors). “Your GPA is 2.2 [just barely over a C average].”
“You should REALLY consider a trade school, because you will probably not be successful in a college setting.”
Time stood still for what seemed like five minutes.
I remember thinking, at the time, how much your comments hurt my feelings. Most of my friends were going on to college. My grades weren’t THAT bad. I’m totally capable of making it at a university. Trade school … REALLY??
And then my mind drifted back to reality. I didn’t work hard in high school – at all! So many classes skipped – at Burger King, golfing, anything else – when I should have been in class, actually learning! I had squandered those three years as a sophomore, junior, and senior. That time had flown by … in a blur of wasted time and wasted potential.
You. Were. Right, Mr. Craigmile:
I hadn’t done anything to put myself in a position to do anything after high school. Sure I knew how to bag groceries, change the oil in my car, and shovel snow. But I had no real skill. At the time, I left your office thinking that I would prove you wrong, Mr. McGuidance-Pants!
I would take your words and make you eat them (at least in my mind)! As days turned into years, I learned something completely different, kind sir. It wasn’t at all that I needed to prove you wrong; I needed to prove myself right. To actually live up to my potential. And if that was trade school, or college, that would be fine with me. As long as I did what I was meant to do.
I wanted to let you know what’s happened since high school:
- Faith, family, and friends are the most important things in my life. I married my lovely bride more than 25 years ago and it continues to be a great adventure.
- Through some miracle - in spite of my, ahem,
stellar below average entrance exam score - I was able to actually get into college.
- With a lot of effort, and catch up from missed learning in high school, I earned a bachelor’s degree in business, and then later on, a master’s degree.
- I proudly served as an officer in the Air Force for eight years.
- I’ve had a successful career in the business world.
- I recently started blogging, and rekindled my love for writing.
- Learning has been a life-long love of mine since we “chatted” in your office that day, and learning excites me!
Looking back on that meeting with you, Mr. Craigmile, I can’t help but think that maybe you said all those things on purpose. Maybe you knew that your words would motivate me. That’s how I like to see it. Whether you did, or not, I want to thank you for inspiring me to do something more; to live up to some of my potential.
A Very Grateful Student