The Power of One

Meetings after meetings, after planning, after grading…. you guessed it, I’m a teacher. There are many parts of my job I love, but having to attend numerous meetings and professional development meetings, that many times do me absolutely no good, irritate me. Being a music teacher, I constantly have to think about how the topic being discussed and how I could attempt to apply it to my subject area. But, this year there was an AMAZING speaker that Springfield was incredibly blessed to have come and speak to us. This speaker spoke to our hearts, opened our eyes, and reminded us of why we became educators. Teaching is hard and even if you love your job, I am sure that at one point or another you probably thought, “ Why am i doing this? What is the point?” He reminded us all that the point is the kids. They are the reason we do what we do! They are the reason I do what I do, because I love these kids. I needed to be reminded of this.


( Me and some of the amazing teachers I teach with everyday)

Have you ever watched the movie, “Freedom Writer?” Well, first if you haven’t, then you need to watch it! If you’re an educator and you’ve never seen it, then you definitely need to watch it! Well, the man who came to speak to all of us teachers, and inspire us for this new school year, was the man that that movie was based on. How cool, right?!!! If you’ve seen it, you are probably like… “Woah, yeah that is amazing!” But seriously if you haven’t seen it, you should go and watch it right Now! ( Well read the rest of this post and then go and watch it). His story is incredible and the things he accomplished are amazing. He is changing the history of his family for generations to come. His name is Manny Scott.


Here’s his story from his website:

“An original Freedom Writer whose story is told in part in the 2007 hit movie, Freedom Writers, Manny Scott has energized almost two million leaders, educators, volunteers, and students worldwide with his authentic, inspiring messages of hope. Speaking to over 125 groups a year for the past decade, he is the speaker of choice for conferences, conventions, schools, fundraisers, and banquets. Manny has a gift: the ability to connect with, hold the attention of, and energize all kinds of audiences. From inner-city youth to business executives, Manny has learned to speak, and command, the language of his audiences with relevant, riveting, and compelling messages, moving them from cheers, to laughter, to tears, and go-forward determination.

By age 16, Manny’s story was almost over:
His father was incarcerated, he missed 60-90 days of school annually from 4th to 9th grade, he dropped out of school at age 14, he lived in 26 places by age 16, and his best friend was brutally murdered. Sensing that the end of his life was near, Manny sat down on a park bench, and considered how he would make others feel the depth of despair and anger roiling in his soul. He says, “When I look back, I now see that I was heading down a path that would have destroyed me.”

Then, a man—a complete stranger—took a risk, and sat down beside Manny. That man connected with him, encouraged him, and inspired him to write a different story—to create a new life.
That day, on a park bench, Manny Scott turned the page. He returned to school with a new attitude and purpose, and ended up in the back of Erin Gruwell’s English class—a group now known worldwide as the Freedom Writers, portrayed in the 2007 hit MTV movie.
In his journal, Manny began writing—and dreaming about—new, more fulfilling chapters in his life- chapters filled with healing, hope, perseverance, and possibility.
Through very hard work, and with the help of others, Manny has achieved many of those journaled dreams.
In 2007, he founded Ink International, Inc, an education consulting firm that has empowered nearly two million people to improve the quality of not only their own lives, but also the lives of those around them; Ink has helped hundreds of organizations raise student achievement and leader effectiveness in 48 states and four continents; and, Ink has helped prevent thousands of dropouts and suicides.
He is the author of three books: “Your Next Chapter“, a book that shows people, step-by-step, how to create the life of their dreams; and, “How to R.E.A.C.H. Youth Today“, a book that shares his unique approach to helping others; and, Turning the Page, his not-yet-released memoir that he only makes available to people who hear him in person.
He is now happily married, a doting father of three, a pilot, a Ph.D. student, and one of the nation’s most sought after speakers.”

manny scott

What an amazing story, right?! I could not keep a dry eye as he talked about his life and the things that had happened to him at such a young age, and about the teacher that changed the course of his life forever. Now,  I  know that I don’t teach in the ghetto, or even in a super rough school, but I teach kids that need to be reminded, just like all other children, all the time , of the potential that they have and all that they can achieve if they set their minds on something. His tour campaign is called “The power of 1”. The power of one teacher to see the potential in that one student, the one that no one else thinks can do it, the one that no one else believes in, the one that doesn’t even believe in his or herself… this is the teacher that I want to be! I want to always keep this in mind. I am a teacher for that one student… to get through to that one student… to believe in that one student… to help them achieve what they thought they couldn’t achieve… to help them get to a point of believing in themselves.

Inspiring, right? But how do we as educators continue to day in and day out remember these things and think about that 1 student, when there are so many other factors? Good question! I am currently trying to figure that out myself, but I do know that God can help me. He will help me to put things in perspective, and see the students the way he sees them- loving them and caring for them, wanting them to have a good life, and always being there for them. And praying that no matter how hard the job gets, or how many other things fill my plate, that those kids are entrusted to me for this time and I have the awesome opportunity to be an encouraging, loving, and an inspiring voice to those students. I have the awesome opportunity to teach them to believe in themselves and to go for their goal and achieve it!

(This is my crew)

swimming teachers

music teachers

You may not be a teacher, but you have the power to change someone else’s course and life by the way you treat them, act, and the things you say to them. Remember that saying “ sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me..?” We all know that this statement is false,  words can hurt someone. The bible says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”- I want all my words to be life to someone, encouraging them and allowing them to believe that they can do the hard tasks and succeed, they can do what they have set forth to do. As you go about your daily life, remember that your words are important and you can bring forth life in someone, remember the power of one!

With Kindness and Love,

Erin Ruscel


2 thoughts on “The Power of One

  1. Lovely post, Erin! I enjoyed this so much, and you brought up the memory of when I first saw Freedom Writers. What an inspiring movie!! It is so true that one person can make a huge difference in someone’s life, or even the world. I am also trying to figure out how to keep this in mind throughout my days at school. But I do know that my kids love coming to school and they are excited to learn, so hopefully I am making a difference in their mindset about their education, even when the days get long an difficult! You are definitely making a difference in your students’ lives too, every day, and teaching them a love for music which can transfer into so many other things in their lives: perseverance, passion, dedication, practice, and friendship. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  2. Thank you so much, Stephanie! I really appreciate you taking the time to always connect and to leave me heartfelt comments! I absolutely love this movie… it really grips your heart and makes you feel for the kids in those situations! I think our themes and reminders to be kind and encouraging throughout the days, can really lift a spirit and it may be just that simple. That is so great when you hear from your kiddos that they love school and love learning!!! I know that you are making a difference, just because you are asking yourself those hard questions and wondering if you are making a difference… You are thinking about it and wanting to be better! Also, I think you are such a lovely person that I can only imagine the incredible teacher you are and how much you love and care for those kids you have been given! Thank you so much for the nice words about me as a teacher and the impact I am making on my students, I sure hope I am. I am going to try a little harder to make it a point to talk with each student throughout the week a little more, sometimes since my class is a musical class, I get so preoccupied with teaching my content, that i miss out on the student’s lives or things that they may want to tell me. It is definitely hard when I only have 45 min each day with them, but I am going to try. Have a wonderful Saturday!

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