Can you pinpoint someone who has greatly influenced your life? Maybe it was your parents, a teacher, sibling, sports athlete, CEO, etc. It can be a current or past experience, but either way that person has played a role in shaping who you are today.
I’m thankful my parents are great role models for me, but they weren’t the only ones that played an influence to who I am today. I can’t give enough credit to teachers because they are superheroes and major influencers to all of us. Stories I hear from my friends about being a teacher proves to be one of the most challenging jobs for our future generation. My mom worked many years at Benjamin N. Cardozo as a school aid assistant in the foreign language department. Today she works part-time as a substitute teacher, and deals with the challenges of kids using their smart phones and lack of respect for elders. We should be thanking our teachers.
My mother is the most selfless, patient, and loving woman I know today. I am fortunate she has always encouraged me to try my best, and keep pushing hard to succeed. Giving up is always easy, but teachers show us there are dreams and goals we can set in life to achieve. How did Alex Rodriguez, LeBron James, Bill Gates and Larry Page get to where they are today? These icons can serve as role models and influencers in everyone’s life. What did you dream of doing when you grow up? I still don’t have an answer to that question today, but I have been able to set goals that are achievable and go after new dreams. I’d like you to think for a few moments about how you got to where you are today, and who helped pave that road.
After grammar school, I ventured into seventh grade at Junior High School 194 in Whitestone, NY. For the first time I was enrolled in the music band program led by Mr. Al Leone. I had an opportunity to learn any instrument they offered at the time and I choose the percussions. I loved making noise as a kid and still do today! Mr. Al Leone played an integral part of my life because he helped me discover a new place where my heart fell in love with music. I will never forget the amount of time he dedicated teaching me the percussions. We started with counting the basic whole, half, and quarter note beats. We soon applied that counting method to beating the snare drum. I enjoyed learning this instrument so much, I went on to play percussions on the weekends with the Queens Borough Wide Band of New York. I wish you were still here today Mr. Leone so I can personally thank you. There was so much sadness in my heart attending your memorial service, but you will never be forgotten. My friends, and I still talk about you till this day.
I continued playing percussions at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School and was part of the Jazz band, Concert band, and Orchestra with Mr. Steven Sachs, and Mr. Harvey Samuels. Playing music was the most enjoyable class during high school. Thank you Mr. Samuels for helping me explore and expand my musical talent, especially through Jazz band. Music is an integral part of my life today, and I couldn’t appreciate it more without the experience of band class. In addition to the high school band, a few friends and I also started a rock band named ” No MSG.” Though it didn’t become a great success, performing at events such as battle of bands was an experience I could never forget. There’s no better feeling than being a part of a cohesive group of musicians.
I also joined the Cardozo Handball Team led by Coach Lenny Levin. It is a game in which players hit a small hard rubber ball against a wall with their hands. This urban sport has proliferated in NYC today. In the 1930’s, the N.Y.C. Parks Department put up thousands of courts in the five boroughs. There were tournaments almost every week during the warmer months. Many athletic clubs had built 1-wall courts indoors and there was intense competition between their teams. Women’s tourneys starting in the 1930’s were outdoors at the beaches.
My brother Jason also played on the handball team, and was captain during his senior year at Cardozo high school. Watching him play influenced me to be part of the team too. I had been playing handball since grade school, and by the tenth grade I qualified on the team as a second doubles player. By my junior year I was appointed captain of the team and continued to play first singles until I graduated in 1999.
Coach Leonard Levin is an incredible individual filled with positive energy, and attitude. He always made a gloomy scenario feel so much happier. He has taught us about perseverance, good sportsmanship, and pride for our team. His words of encouragement, and life advice has stayed with me till this day and I thank him for being there for me.
Each one of these teachers has greatly influenced my life, and hope you remember those who have impacted yours too.