Who is your guide when things are tough?

Every year hundreds of people attempt to climb 29,035 feet to the highest point in the world, the summit of Mt. Everest and every year hundreds of sherpa guides, porters and yaks make sacrifices to get them there. Without their help, most wouldn’t make it to the top alive, and many of them don’t come back. The life of a sherpa and porter comes with great risks. Most climb to provide for their families.

Image result for peak by roland smith

My classes talk about all of this while we read the novel Peak by Roland Smith. At one point in the book the main character, Peak is being filmed for a documentary and the film crew doesn’t want the sherpas, porters and yaks interrupting the shot. Peak yells at the film crew. He explains that without those sherpas, porters and yaks, none of them would be able to climb Mt. Everest. They help carry the needed supplies up the mountain and help guide the climbers when things get tough.

The sherpa guides help lessen the load of the climbers. After we discussed this point in the book, I asked the students: Who are your porters? Who can you not survive without? Who helps carry the burden when things get tough?

They came up with a list of people (mom, dad, teachers, etc.). Then I asked them to dive even deeper: Did you enjoy lunch today? How did you get your lunch today? Do you enjoy going to a clean school? Who do you think cleans it each day? We brainstormed even more people who help out throughout the school day. It was a great moment. They reflected on a lot of people who work behind the scenes to make what we do possible. At the end of the hour I challenged them to find a way to thank those people for making the school day great.

In the future I’m hoping to have them write thank you cards to all of those people who don’t normally get recognized for helping out.

This time of year I’m always reflecting on my own life. Who are my guides up the Mt. Everest of life? Who helps lift my burdens when things are tough?



Each day I’m blessed to have a co-teacher or paraeducator in my room for 4 out of my 5 teaching hours. I know what a privilege that is and I don’t take it for granted. I’m grateful for everything they provide my students. A lot of the students have already shown huge transformations thanks to their guidance and support.

I work with a front office staff that is constantly striving to help teachers get the materials they need, help correctly enter receipts (which deserves a medal), and help get students where they need to go at the right time. They are the hardest working office staff anywhere. They rock.

I work in a clean facility thanks to the hard work of our amazing custodial staff. Our cafeteria staff works hard to make sure that students get the food they need, even if they don’t have the funds to pay for it, sometimes paying for it out of their own pockets.

My wife supports all of my crazy ideas for the classroom. She helps out at home during the robotics season and is my sounding board for all of my ideas. She gives me critical feedback when I need it, encouragement when that’s what I need to hear most, but most importantly she’s willing to listen any time I need it.

Take some time this month to find those people who help you when the burden seems too much to bear and thank them!

6 thoughts on “Who is your guide when things are tough?”

  1. Josh,

    What an amazing activity to do with students. I was listening to the Hamilton Mixtape and in the Wiz Khalifa song which starts with him saying something to the effect of “I made it myself” then immediately throws a shout out to his crew. It left me wondering if about all of the supports and backup that are needed in order to build things “ourselves”.

  2. I love the connection you made from the book to the world around the them. I think it is so important for all of us to stop and think about all the people that support us and how our world would not be the same without them. Your students are so lucky and blessed to have you as their teacher!

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