Teaching – The Power of Influence
The impact of teaching is clear, and the influence of the profession is immeasurable. All it takes is one moment, one situation, one discussion to turn the life of a young learner.
When I think about the people who have influenced my life, I would have to say that my mother weighs in with the most impact. My mom is my hero. She has significantly influenced the way I view the world. And, I have always been extremely impressed with how she overcame the baggage of an abusive family and so many challenges as a single parent. Not only did she triumph, but she found a way to attend college while raising me. However, she would never have accomplished those most difficult tasks if not for the influence of one very supportive educator.
A Teacher’s Negative Influence
During her tender teen years, prior to her pregnancy with me, she was bused to an all-white school. This took place during the 1960s, when busing had become the socially-accepted means to integrate society. During that time, my mother desired to attend college, but a teacher told her that her intellectual abilities were not suited for college. That teacher recommended she pursue a profession where she could use her hands—working in the manufacturing plants in Detroit and Flint, Michigan. This comment hurt my mother, and the educator’s power of suggestion negatively permeated her soul. This later contributed to her low self-esteem and a loss of purpose.
Almost ten years later, at the age of twenty-five, a friend suggested my mother attend community college. Having internalized the comments of that high school teacher, she had never believed college was a reachable goal. Those comments still made it very difficult for her to embrace the new idea and opportunity that faced her. She mentioned to me later in my adult years that only after weeks of contemplating the notion of college and reflecting on her then-current living conditions in a ghetto could she make the most transformative decision of her life. She realized she was obligated to do something for her child and for herself.
For the past 20 years, Graysen Walles has achieved notable accomplishments across a diverse industry spectrum, delivering stellar performance in the military, non-profit, and education segments. After honing his expertise in strategic planning, operations, budget management, program development, and personnel for the U.S. Air Force and two non-profit organizations, Graysen made a smooth professional transition to public education.
Initially cast in the role of Paraprofessional in a middle school, Graysen quickly advanced to a certified teaching position in the area of Special Education at the high school level. While in the role of classroom teacher, he developed curricula and led instruction in the disciplines of micro and macroeconomics, geography, and English language, creating learning frameworks that accommodated a range of learning styles for both mainstream and special education students.
While successfully managing his teaching responsibilities, Graysen took the lead in district- and school-wide improvement, fueling the critical relationship-building process with parents and members of the community to unite stakeholders in a common vision and goal and make progress towards building a cutting edge youth leadership program focused on higher performing students enrolled in under-resourced communities. The program, The Elite Scholars, actively engages over 350 students from all walks of life. The common goal of these students is to perform with excellence in the areas academics, service, faith and leadership.
Graysen achieved his doctoral degree from Fielding Graduate University; Master of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and B.A. from Wayland Baptist University. He currently serves in the United States Air Force Reserves and works as a school administrator in Atlanta, GA. Graysen is married with three sons and they reside in Atlanta, GA.