Monday, April 29, 2013

Diamonds in the Rough by Cleo Lampos

Finding the potential in problematic students is challenging regardless of the setting: public school, private school, church clubs, youth groups or Sunday School. In her book, Teaching Diamonds in the Tough, author Cleo Lampos reminds the reader on each page that every teacher possesses the power to shape a child’s future. Through illustrative episodes drawn from her teaching experiences, Lampos recreates the struggles, triumphs, and heartbreaks inherent in education. Undergirded with the belief that even the most incorrigible child can change if given affection, attention and guidance, the author inspires educators with story, Scripture, quotes and a suggested follow through action plan. The challenge, according to Lampos, is to look beyond the rough exteriors of a student’s attitude and behavior to their inner needs. Underneath may be a true diamond in the tough.

To Read a Sample of the book, go here:

MELISSA’S GIFT Melissa joined the staff at a time when middle-aged or forty-something teachers dominated. The twenty-something rookie with three years of experience reminded many of us of our daughters. It was difficult to reign in maternal feelings for Melissa, but, to our amazement, she didn’t need our protecting or mentoring.

Coming to the public school from a parochial setting, Melissa soon had her class in lock-step precision as they walked to lunch and gym. Somehow she spoke softly to twenty-five students who responded, maybe out of love. Their teacher always dressed up for school long skirts swishing, hair up, hair down, hair braided in an Eastern European style.

Melissa’s room boasted learning centers in each corner that changed weekly, as did many of the bulletin boards. On Friday afternoons, Melissa’s grandparents came to the classroom with home-baked goodies and worked individually with students on reading or math. After school, several students stayed to help wash the desktop and counters. Melissa’s grandmother put up intricately designed bulletin boards she had used in her many years teaching in the Chicago public school system.

I stood at my door day after day, looking across the hall at Melissa, glowingly greeting her students each morning. She seldom voiced frustration about so many children’s apathy toward eduction. Only a few of us knew she cried about the lack of progress that her under-privileged children made despite her efforts to stimulate their creativity and challenge their skills. To those in her care, Melissa presented a picture of love, beauty and concern.

“I used to be like that,” I often thought, watching her. Twenty years of teaching had deadened my soul, but Melissa rekindled a spark of idealism inside me that flickered dimly. After leaving college, I had chosen to teach in the Chicago area, wanting to reach the culturally deprived, high-risk students; thinking one teacher could make a difference; hoping to change lives in a positive way. I believed that God placed me in my particular classroom with specific students for a reason that stretched into eternity. Watching Melissa, that idealistic feeling returned and grew, changing my attitudes and style of teaching from tired and negative to a daily opportunity to reach out. At mid-life, I felt energized.

 Melissa taught for another year. In her third year, she married her best friend, Kevin, in a quiet ceremony, autumn leaves ablaze on the trees. They spent weekends on short trips to spots of natural beauty in neighboring states. Their honeymoon appeared endless.

I was sitting in the teachers’ lounge sipping my morning caffeine, when a phone call came through. “Melissa and Kevin were killed in an automobile accident while returning from Michigan. Kevin was thrown from the car as it impacted another. Melissa burned in the driver’s seat.”

The social worker moved the crisis team into full counseling mode. Most of us pushed through personal pain to keep the situation calm. So many children, so many questions.

I had never been to a funeral with two caskets. Melissa and Kevin’s wedding picture stood between the caskets, hundreds of flowers softening the brutal truth. We cried together as a faculty, we cried with the family, we cried until there were no more tears, only an ache in the heart. Melissa had accomplished much in a short time.

I still glance at Melissa’s old room and remember her energy, concern, and desire to reach the most difficult student. And I thank God for placing Melissa in a particular classroom, in a specific school, so an old, apathetic teacher could rekindle her flame of passion for students.

Look It Up
“Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” Colossians 4:17

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58

Chalk It Up
“You can’t change the world. You can only change yourself.” - Beatrice Wood (102 year old American Artist)

“Those who lose dreaming are lost.” - Australian proverb

“You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.” - Bonnie Prudden

“Some people come into our lives and quietly go. Others stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same.” - Embroidered Motto on friend’s wall

Lesson Plan
Think back to the reasons why becoming a teacher intrigued you. Get in touch with the idealism that motivated your dedication. Breathe your youth back into a tired body.

To buy the book, go here:
The Lighthouse of the Carolinas Publishing Company

Cleo's bio:

Few people spend their lives doing the things that they love. Author Cleo Lampos has been able to combine her love of writing and teaching. An avid reader, Lampos majored in Elementary Education at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Library Science Minor. She taught for 26 years after attaining a Master’s Degree in Special Education from St. Xavier University-Chicago. As an educator, she drafted educational positions for the teaching staff of the South Chicago suburban district.

Her magazine articles appeared in Focus on Teachers, Lookout, Christian Leadership, Freeway, Virtue, Today’s Child, and many others. Using her journals, she wrote a devotional, Teaching Diamonds in the Tough: Mining the Potential of Every Student, published in 2012 by Lighthouse of the Carolinas. Lampos was the 2011 SemiFinalist in the Genesis Contest for YA.

To connect with Cleo, go here:

Website/blog -
Facebook - Cleo Lampos

Cleo is giving away a copy of Diamonds in the Rough. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.  To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


carol said...

I'd love to read a copy of your book and I recall that I always did better in school when I had teachers who cared. Thank you

Patricia Bradley said...

Wow! Absolutely riveting. Would love to read the rest of this book. When I finished, I would give to a couple of great teachers experiencing burn-out right now. pat at ptbradley dot com

Teela said...

Wow, with my husband a pastor and teacher I'm sure we both would love to read Cleo's book.

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