Separate the Real Role Models from the Fakes

Jaime EscalanteYou can pursue your passion in life by finding a good mentor. You can pursue your goals by finding a good role model, and in turn, being a good role model yourself.

Although some athletes are excellent role models, I look for qualities beyond the ability to dribble a basketball or throw a football. I admire athletes who finish their college degree instead of taking the cash that comes with a pro contract.

I’d be much more inclined to view the athlete who drops out as a role model if he or she went back to school during the off-season. Either way, if they set the example of getting an education, I can live with them being paid 100 times more than what a public school teacher makes in a year. After all, they’re pursuing their passion, they give children who look up to them some sense of responsibility and they are making a good living at what they do.

Mike Haynes is an athlete I believe we all can admire. Haynes, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and one of the best defensive backs to ever play the game, was drafted in the first round by the New England Patriots in 1976.

He dropped out of college, but finished his degree in 1980. Haynes worked every off-season for fourteen years to prepare for life after football. Both on the field and off, Haynes set goals and objectives for himself. Haynes is now an executive with the Callaway Golf Company.

Regardless of our ethnicity or racial background, there are role models for all of us.

Role Models in Our Schools

More often than not, the real role models are in our schools, not on the football field, up on the movie screen, or singing at concerts.

In my mind, schoolteachers are the true stars of our society. The late Jaime Escalante is a magnificent role model and has been called the best teacher in America.

I admired Escalante long before I met him. When Escalante taught at Garfield High School, drug dealers were the role models for some of his students.

The people selling drugs had money and power, and this was what the students respected. Escalante sent the message that education is the far better route to success.

Thousands of people have fond memories of Marva Collins, whose passion is educating children. She believes strongly in staying true to the Latin meaning of “teacher,” which is to lead and draw out. Collins is determined to never lose one child. She has trained over 30,000 teachers and touched the lives of millions of children.

Teachers like Marva Collins help children to find new direction. A kind word of encouragement can motivate children to do more than they might have ever dreamed was possible. Teachers can open up a world of possibilities for a child.

David M. Shribman interviewed people from all walks of life. Everyone he talked with had an anecdote about a teacher who played an important role in his or her life. Whether the person was a good student or a bad one, and no matter what occupation they were in, all of them had a teacher who made a big difference in who they are today.

In the preface to his book I Remember My Teacher, Shribman said, “Those who can, do. Those who teach, do more.”

The best role models aren’t usually athletes, TV icons, rock stars or supermodels. The best role models are around us and in front of us every day. They are parents and teachers.

Role models should also be individuals who demonstrate qualities that contribute to good character development, who have a sense of ethics and morals, and who believe that success is more than just what is in your bank account, that what matters is what is inside you as a person.

Find your role models and become one yourself!

14 Responses to “Separate the Real Role Models from the Fakes”

  1. February 28, 2013 at 12:48 am, Rex Dow said:

    Charles, Thanks for putting this piece together. Agree with what you say. It’s funny, but the roles you list in the 3rd to last paragraph are almost exactly in order from best paid to most underpaid. Rather ironic.

  2. February 28, 2013 at 12:50 am, Kevin said:

    I agree – school teachers are society’s unsung heroes! Great blog!

  3. February 28, 2013 at 12:52 am, marc said:

    Excellent post! We definitely need more role models in the world.

  4. February 28, 2013 at 12:58 am, Harold Gardner said:

    When I wrote my senior thanks to my teachers in our High School newspaper, I said: Thanks to every teacher that I have ever had. The good ones for providing me role models and the bad ones for providing me incentive.

  5. February 28, 2013 at 1:01 am, Dr. Michael Haley said:

    I like the article… role models are important. But is it OK that I disagree a bit about education? I agree teachers are great and important role models. But I would much rather see a top paid athlete visiting sick kids in a children’s hospital than getting an education that they aren’t going to use. Or even someone who builds an excellent service oriented business such as landscaping who works hard and takes pride in the finished work setting the highest standard in the industry, yet barely has a high school education. As a physician, I have lots of education. I know many from school that are equally educated. I lived with them and know that their education is not what makes them role models… and many educated are far from role models.

  6. February 28, 2013 at 1:09 am, Radha said:

    Role models are important and our teachers are in the front line.
    I agree with Dr. Haley, taking pride in the little things sets a standard.
    I do think everyone should get as much education as they can manage, even if your job doesn’t require it. Knowledge is power!

  7. February 28, 2013 at 1:46 am, bewitched in salem said:

    One of my greatest role models was an owner of a corner store in my neighborhood. I did some light work for little pay, but the life lessons learned I didn’t get anywhere else. I also agree with some teachers being great role models as well. I had 2 that I looked up to completely.

  8. February 28, 2013 at 3:20 am, J W. said:

    I agree completely. While it’s not a concrete rule, it’s funny how the people the media likes the hail as the heroes are often times the people to be watched. Anyway, excellently written article and I look forward to reading more of your work!

  9. February 28, 2013 at 3:27 am, gerome said:

    Not really some teachers can break a students confidence how many of them are biased very often students get hurt by teachers insensitivity and some bullied. Teachers arent angels.

  10. February 28, 2013 at 3:33 am, Mika Douglas said:

    I can go along with the premise that teachers are in the best place to positively influence our kids. I would say they rank #2, right behind parents. Unfortunately the ranking is merely an indication of availability. The tougher part is the teachers passion, compassion, and creativity to connect with our kids. The even tougher part is the structure that prevents the teachers from getting too close or stepping on parents toes, the politics.
    You want teachers to be a role model then eliminate the obstacles for the teachers who are motivated. Keep in mind that we treat teacher like crap. School shooting, the outcry for teachers to carry guns. Learning disability, let the teachers provide remedial work. Nurse, Warden, Mentor, how many hats do they have to wear?
    Of course for the teachers who aren’t motivated, they need to be retired. As well the administrators who suck 90 cents out of every educational dollar.

  11. February 28, 2013 at 3:35 am, ManlioMannozzzi said:

    Really interesting article, it is imposssible not to be in agreement with u

  12. February 28, 2013 at 5:56 am, Tom Mack said:

    Teachers are definitely a primary source of influence for our young children however when it gets to the university level I found that there is way too much political agenda being pushed on the students. This is very disappointing.

  13. February 28, 2013 at 6:18 am, Dr Watson Goh said:

    Teachers are one of the main pillars of a child upbringing.

    Failure of a teacher can have very bad effects on the children overall education and this future as a useful person in society later.

    I personally salute all my past teachers, mentor, lecturers and trainers. They are the one that “created” whom I am today, as well as all my successes.

    Thank you.

  14. February 28, 2013 at 9:32 am, Barry Gumm said:

    Interesting thank you

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