When I was a teacher, I had a student named Joanna. She was a sweet, quiet little thing, with the most gorgeous long and thick auburn hair. She wasn't a particular stand out in any way: she was smack in the middle academically, quiet enough in class to not draw my ire, yet not so quiet that I questioned whether she was learning. She was sweet and kind but didn't go out of her way to help anyone out. So, she was one of those students that normally would sort of slip through the radar, not super memorable.
Except for one thing.
Joanna wanted to learn how to jump rope. Her very first day of school, she quietly observed some older girls jumping rope. "Teacher?" she asked. "What are they doing?" I showed her where the jump ropes were kept and watched her patiently arrange her hands and feet just right for the rest of my recess duty.
The next day was the same, and the next. Day after day, week after week, without a single break in her routine, Joanna practiced jumping rope. She wasn't very coordinated, she had to work really hard to make the smallest advance in skill. One whole week was dedicated to just holding the rope correctly. The next two she worked on swinging it so it would go over her head.
Rain or shine, Joanna practiced and practiced. As I watched her day in and day out, I noticed a few things. She never strayed from her goal. Most kids flitted from slide to swings to balls to jump ropes, but not Joanna - she was ONLY for jump rope. She also never grew frustrated. After one particularly grueling recess in which she was trying desperately to time her jump just right to make it over the rope, she kept tripping. She fell. She practiced the entire recess without being successful once. But the next recess, she was happily right back out there, cheerful smile and attitude intact.
She never, ever gave up. She was persistent to her goal.
By the end of the year, of course, Joanna was the best jump roper in the school. She even taught herself to Double Dutch. Kids of all ages would stop their play to watch her jump rope.
I remember thinking at the time, "When I have children, I want to teach them that. The persistence, the amazing positive attitude, the inner drive to succeed at something no matter how difficult it is."
I hope I'm succeeding.