In a poor city in Israel, an eighth grade teacher was asked to help motivate her students.
She posted three photos on the board, each showing a different child.
“I’m going to tell you about these three children,” said the teacher.
“I’d like you to imagine their lives as adults, and whether or not they can grow up to be successful.”
- Shaul was born in Tehran. At age 9, he moved to Israel with his family and lived in a refugee camp, later studying in a farming school.
- Will grew up in a poor town. His father died when he was 4 years old. His mother remarried an alcoholic with a gambling addiction; the man beat his wife and stepson.
- Ofra was born to a teenage mother and was put into foster care. She was sent from one family to another, over and over, and was a victim of sexual abuse. She wound up in a boarding school, but was kicked out.
Most of the students said these three kids wouldn’t amount to anything. Only 30% of the class thought that the students had a chance to be successful.
The teacher smiled as she revealed the true identities of the three children:
- Lt. General Shaul Mofaz: Politician and 16th Commander-in-Chief of the IDF
- William Jefferson Clinton: 42nd President of the United States of America
- Oprah Winfrey: Talk Show Host, media entrepreneur and philanthropist
“The kids were speechless when they saw who we’d been talking about,” recalls Liron Dahan, a teacher at Darca Gymnasia High School in Kiryat Malachi.
“This lesson proves that your family or socio-economic background doesn’t necessarily determine your fate; so much of it depends on the individual.”
Thanks to our teachers for helping students believe in themselves in the new year.
This story was translated and adapted by the author from an article in Shiur Hofshi, a magazine for Hebrew educators.