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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)

TITLE: Teaching Charlie
By Michael Ales


Charlie is something special. Hes not the boy you want your daughter to marry someday. Hes not the friend you want your son to hang around with. Still, Charlie has a certain charm that stands strong against his lot in life. And though he has all the potential of the little acorn that will one day become an oak, Charlie has yet to be planted.

His dad died when Charlie was a little boy; his mom raised him the best she could. His friends have escorted him down the wrong path, and he has probably done some escorting of his own. Blonde-haired, green-eyed, and baby-faced, Charlie stands precariously at the top of a hill, looking down one side into a valley filled with a troubled childhood, and down the other into the frightfully uncertain world of adulthood. No longer a little boy, he is at a crossroad where he needs to make some tough decisions between the irresponsibility of youth and his destiny in manhood.

But who will show him the way?

I have eighteen students in my class, many are like Charlie. Many had to hitchhike through childhood and are now thumbing a ride through their last years of school with fear or apathy or both. Most of them are finding it a challenge to make the leap into adulthood where, instead of being driven along by the tide, they learn to row toward their destinations with strength and confidence. All of them need encouragement to take responsibility for their choices - for today, and for a tomorrow which is fast hurtling toward them. Charlie and his crew of classmates feel they are nearing the end of the plank, and they know not into what they are jumping off.

Charlie stands on the brink of what should be a bright and shining tomorrow with some veil obscuring his foresight and restraining his belief. Who will remove the veil? Indeed, where have all the encouragers been, asleep at the switch or simply too tied in knots of fear and apathy of their own? And where have all the heroes gone; have they abdicated their role to a select group of talent-laden but incapable men? Charlie has urgent need of a champion.

Could it be that a stranger could enter the game at even so late an hour, armed with great expectations and warring to make a difference? I would choose to believe that a willing participant could be a catalyst of change, or at least a significant sway. I hold hope that a man or a woman, one who would choose to teach, holds the power to pour life into a dry and thirsty soil, and to help plant the young seed with a knowledge that he will surely become a tree. For Charlie, at his station in life, I have a passion to be such a one.

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This article has been read 772 times
Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood11/02/06
Beautiful character description and message! I could see Charlie in the initial portrayal of him and feel the compassion of the teacher who cares about his future and his life.

Would like to see more direct action and dialog throughout the story. This would bring both characters and the message conveyed even more to life.

Great allegory with the seed that needs to be planted!
Mary Smith11/02/06
Very well written! Great word choice throughout! And a powerful message. My own jump into adulthood doesn't seem like it was so long ago, and it was scary. Thank God for my family and for their prayers and encouragment. But what of those who don't have that support? Adulthood holds its own fears, and we often forget what it was like to be on that plank, looking into the water.

The passion of a teacher... Which of us is called to that delicate, but so important job of teaching and encouraging the young?
L.M. Lee11/04/06
finding encouragement in a difficult task - good job.
Trina Courtenay11/07/06
I could hear you! Reading this was like sitting in the room listening to and hanging on every word you spoke.