“My Personal Heroes”

McDonald’s Creek

It is time for high school graduation ceremonies and I wanted to take time to acknowledge my former high school students who remained as middle school advisors for community service this year. When I retired from teaching last year, I was unsure if my middle school community service program would continue. However, my high school juniors decided to dedicate their senior year to working with a “new” teacher to assist her throughout the school year. To me, this was amazing and I am honored and humbled by their acts of kindness and dedication to service. So, I wanted to use this public forum to share my respect, honor and love for each of “my” high school students.

So, to all of you, this is my graduation speech for you…

I wish you the best in all your future endeavors and please know that you will always have a special place in my heart. You are my personal heroes and a constant reminder to me of the far-reaching effects of compassion. I am so clear now that the people you serve receive your love and you are empowered by the experience of making a difference in our world with your actions. Ultimately, just as powerful, are the observers of your service. We, who look at your actions for the good with awe at your incredible aliveness, are blessed a hundred-fold observing your actions of love. We become inspired. We become hopeful. We become whole with humanity. You change our actions for the good by being role models for us.

I have always called you the peacemakers of the world as you are our future leaders. It was all of you who inspired the name of my inspirational art photography endeavor – PeacemakersArt.com. So, to each of you, I send you my love forever and my admiration for your integrity to “be” the change in the world that will bring peace.

With special love,

Ms. Gaia

flanders nature center


  1. Thank you for everything you have taught me over the years, Ms. Gaia. I am forever touched by your kindness and compassion and now I wake every morning with optimism and happiness to see a new day. Each day is another opportunity to make a difference in even the most minute way. I will take everything I learned from not only Student Activists but you as a role model and I plan on being the most passionate and loving nurse I can possibly be. I am so blessed to have known you and I could not have blossomed without the values I have learned from you and Student Activists. What you have taught me will forever stay with me for the rest of my life and I cannot thank you enough for being such a huge part of my development as an adult, and my choice to pursue nursing as a career. I am so excited to begin my life helping and caring for others and I will do it with all of my love and compassion.

    I am so glad you visited, and I hope to see you sometime soon in the future.

    Lisa B.

  2. Dear Ms. Gaia,
    Thank you so very much for the beautiful card and touching words. You have been the inspiration in my life to reach out and help people’s lives in many ways. Simply playing games with the Kennedy Center or talking, always brought a huge smile to Allen’s face, and a pleasant feedback from Patty. You have shown me that by just spending time with people and caring about them, that I can truly made someone’s day. I will never forget the Ashlar visits, as I instantly formed such great connections with the elderly. By being exposed to this, I have realized that in my career I wish to assist the elderly. All they need is a little time and patience, qualities most of today’s society lacks. I have a magnet of the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and it ALWAYS reminds me of you. I think I am the compassionate, thoughtful, and caring person I am because of Student Activists, and I am eternally grateful to you. Your photography is simply breathtaking as well.

    Best wishes for everything you do to make this world a better place.


  3. Mrs. Gaia,

    I’m so grateful to have met such an inspiring and compassionate woman such as you. In fact I took what you have taught me and used it in the yearbook. My senior quote was “Be the change you want to see in the world” and I hope I left a positive imprint at Masuk High School as you have done at the middle school and the in the community in general. The program is doing very well and it is all thanks to you. You’re the one who inspired each one of us to not give up in the face of adversity and to always be grateful for everything we’ve been blessed with. I’m so touched by the card you mailed and want you to know that you are always in my thoughts. I am so grateful because I know student activists has molded me into a great person and I have you to thank for that. I hope you and Nikki are doing well and just want to say that you photos are so amazing that they leave me speechless.

    Thank you for everything and I wish you all the best

    Tessy T

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