Little Drummer Boy


I met Steven on a college campus where he was studying music education. He told me about the two teachers who set him on that path fourteen years ago.

I remember getting into trouble in kindergarten for tapping on the table with my pencil. When my teacher took the pencil away, I just tapped with my fingers. My mom (tired of getting notes about it) tried to bribe me with a variety of treats. It was no use – I just couldn’t help it. My first grade teacher was even more annoyed with my tapping than my kindergarten teacher. She used to send me to the office. The assistant principal suggested tapping on my legs instead, but that wasn’t satisfying without the sound.

When I started second grade, I promised my mom I wouldn’t get in trouble for tapping. It was so difficult because I often started to tap with my pencil without even realizing I was doing it. One day my teacher, Mrs. Merkle, asked me to stay after school. I was ready for the usual lecture, but instead, she asked me to take a walk. We walked to the middle school next to our elementary school. She led me into a big room with a piano and a variety of other instruments. It was Mr. Merkle’s room (yes, they were married). Mr. Merkle held out two sticks and asked me to tap on his table. He smiled at Mrs. Merkle and taught me a few rhythms. He let me take the drumsticks home. The Merkles eventually convinced my mom to let me take drum lessons.  

I have been drumming ever since. It is the thing that makes me feel most alive. I will always be grateful to the Merkles for seeing a gift where others only saw an annoyance. I have shared my gift all over the country in a praise band. Now, I plan to share it with the students I will teach. I intend to look for the kids who just can't stop tapping.

Steven’s story made me reflect on the importance of looking for strengths instead of deficits. While others saw a disruptor, Mrs. Merkle saw a drummer. Was there a teacher who spotted the gifts hidden within you?

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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