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Teacher of the Year (Part 2 of 2)

Original Air Date 09/07/1988

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Guy Doud, recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award, recounts his childhood school experiences and how they helped shape his teaching career and passion for reaching kids. (Part 2 of 2)

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Episode Transcript


John Fuller: Today on Focus on the Family you'll hear from Teacher of the Year, Guy Doud, about a unique way to reach out to high school students.

Guy Doud: So you know what I do as a teacher? I go to school a little early in the morning. Here's a desk; here's where Shawn sits. I sit down in Shawn's desk and I pray for Shawn, sitting in his desk. And then when Shawn comes walking down the hall, I can never think of him again in the same way.
End of Teaser

John: Well, what a great perspective from someone who really cares. That's an educator with heart and you'll hear more from him and where he learned that kind of empathy on today's Focus on the Family.

Your host is Focus president, Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Man, that impacts me so deeply, John. My Guy Doud was coach Paul Morrow. And without him I may have been in a different place as an adult. And I love teachers who care like that about their children. This is a hard shift, John, but we also want to be uplifting.

We're celebrating Focus on the Family's 40th anniversary this year by featuring some of our favorite broadcasts, like this one! And culminating in November with our four-day cruise to the Bahamas aboard the award winning "Disney Dream."

Now, John and I will be there, and would love for you and your family to join us. We have lots of special activities and events planned on board. So, be sure to check it out at our website.

John: And we'll have details about the 40th anniversary cruise at

Jim: And also, when you go online, get part one of this message from Guy Doud, especially if you weren't with us last time. He has a great heart for young people and we heard how he was able to reach out to the lost and lonely teens that he encountered as a high school language arts teacher in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Today we're going to hear about Guy's own school years which were difficult, but we're also going to hear how some caring teachers helped him turn the corner and begin to find purpose for his life.

And we know there are many of those great, encouraging teachers listening right now. And we wanna say, "Thank you!" I definitely want to say thank you for what you're doing for the children today. We appreciate you.

John: Oh, we sure do. That's heartfelt from the Daly household and the Fuller household, and behalf of all the staff here. Let me go ahead and reintroduce Guy, quickly.

He was named Teacher of the Year in 1986, and that was awarded by President Ronald Reagan. And since then, he's served as a pastor for many years, and he's done a lot of writing and speaking. And he partnered with Focus on the Family to produce a DVD of his story called, Molder of Dreams.

Let's go ahead and roll back just a little bit as we hear from Guy Doud, speaking to a group of youth pastors on today's Focus on the Family.


Guy: Sometimes when I go somewhere to speak, they feel like they need to go on and on and on about how I was chosen National Teacher of the Year and honored at a ceremony at the White House and all of that. And I always … I always get up and say, "I really don't have any claim to fame." After I was chosen National Teacher of the Year in 1986-87 (Laughter), a reporter from USA Today phoned me—a gentleman by the name of Steve Marshall. And he said, "Mr. Doud, what does it feel like to have been chosen the best teacher in America?"

Well, I thought about that a second and my head began to swell. Then, all of a sudden, I said, "Mr. Marshall, you have to stop right there. In no way does being chosen Teacher of the Year mean I'm the best teacher anywhere—certainly not in America with 2½ million teachers—not in Minnesota, or Brainerd, Minnesota, where I teach. Hopefully, I'm the best teacher in my classroom." (Laughter) Sometimes I'm not so sure.

And I've talked about the importance that teachers played in my life, because they did. It was a teacher who led me to the Lord Jesus Christ--a public school teacher. And we talk about mission fields; the public schools in America today are great mission fields. And we don't need any kind of antagonistic relationships between the schools and the church, because truthfully, the public schools in America today are where most kids are gonna end up going.

And the public school is only going to be as good as the people that are in it, the people that influence it and the people that work with it.

I remember the first male teacher I ever had: Mr. Card. [I] walked into that 6th-grade classroom and there was this guy. I'd never seen a guy in the elementary school before, except Mr. Hill, the custodian. And this guy was young. He couldn't have been more than 70 or 80. (Laughter)

And he came up to me and he grabbed my hand and he says, "Hi, I'm Norm Card. I'm gonna be your teacher." I'd never had a teacher shake my hand before. I said, "Hi, I'm Guy Doud." He said, "Oh, yeah, I've heard of you." I thought, "Oh, no."

But this guy was super; he was dynamic; he was filled with energy. We'd go outside at recess; he'd play right along with us. We played touch football; he played with us. And you know what? He, one time, he made me the captain of the team and I got to pick the sides. I picked Mr. Card right away to be on my team. (Laughter and Applause)

And Mr. Card was always the quarterback and so, he said, "Guy, I want you to go out for a pass. Go down the left side, cut across and I'll hit you with the bomb." He was gonna throw the ball to me? You mean, he trusted me enough to throw the ball to me? All I'd ever been told to do before was, "You block." (Laughter) "You block."

I was a nervous wreck as I lined up, "Hut, hut." And Mr. Card goes back and I'm running, running, running, just praying I wouldn't trip over my feet. And here comes Mr. Card's ball…and, boy, he threw it hard, right into my gut and I caught it! (Laughter) I didn't get very far with it after I caught it. (Laughter) It's just lucky for those other kids it was touch football. (Laughter and Applause)

And Mr. Card would come into the school and I had a haircut like Kirby Puckett. (Laughter) My dad always cut my hair, so I didn't need to go to a barber.

And Mr. Card would come into class and he'd go ... and I'd shake it off, but I liked it. I liked Mr. Card. I thought he was everything that a father should be. I really looked up to him and emulated him. He was my hero.

And I didn't want to leave sixth grade. I didn't want to have to go across town to the big junior-senior high school with 125 kids in each grade. Grade seven through 12 all in one building--big school. And I stayed after school the last day and I said, "Mr. Card, do you think I'll be able to make it in seventh grade?" He said, "Ah, Guy, you'll do fine." I wasn't so sure.

Walking home that night Steve Hall, my neighbor, who went on to be homecoming king, turned to me and said, “Guy" he says, "you’re never going to make it in 7th grade."

He'd heard me talking to Mr. Card. I said, "How come?" I wanted to know what he knew. He says, “You’re going to have to run laps, take Phy Ed.” He knew I didn’t like to run. The only time I do it is when somebody's chasing me. But I also knew what else 7th grade Phy Ed class meant. It wasn’t like 6th grade recess. In 7th grade Phy Ed, you had to take your clothes off. You had to change into Phy Ed clothes. You had to strip!

All my life my mother had said, “Hold your stomach in.” I’d become pretty good at holding it in. And all of a sudden, everything I’d been holding in was going to be right out there. I worried about that all summer long. Maybe none of you had similar feelings. I’m sure some of you did.

But I remember laying awake at night during the summer between sixth and seventh grade worrying about having to start seventh grade, because I had a whole new school. I had to go to seven different classes rather than the same room all day long. I had to have all these different teachers. And most importantly, I had to take Phy. Ed. and I had to change into Phy. Ed. clothes. I was a nervous wreck. I had anxiety; I couldn't sleep some nights.

Finally, the little note came home from the school, "Here's the things your son will need for Phy. Ed. class: Staples Cardinals, red and white, dynamite! --Onward Cardinals to victory! Need a pair of white gym shoes, white gym socks, red gym shorts, that other thing and a white T-shirt." (Laughter)

Well, we didn't have any of those things, so my mother went to Batchers Department Store and bought those things for me. Finally, the summer was over and the first day of Phy. Ed. class came. And to make matters even worse, I had a Phy. Ed. teacher who had just finished 22 years as a drill instructor in the Marine Corps. (Laughter) And it was his first year in education and he was my seventh-grade Phy. Ed. teacher.

And he came into class and he said, "All right, listen up! I'm going to issue a lock! I am going to give you the combination to your lock! Should you forget the combination to your lock, I will write it across your forehead in Magic Marker! Is that understood?" (Laughter and Applause)

And guess who forgot the combination? (Laughter) And I'll tell you why in a minute. I didn't need to go out and run any laps. The sweat, I mean the perspiration was already pouring off of me.

He says, "All right, get changed into your Phy. Ed. clothes on the double." Here I am; I'm a nervous wreck. I'm reaching in my bag. I'm taking out my shoes and my shorts and my socks and my shirt and that other thing. (Laughter) I'd never seen one before. (Laughter) It said "Bike" on the box. (Laughter and Applause) I took it out and I looked at it. It didn't look anything like a bike! (Laughter)

I thought, "What in the world do I do with this thing? (Laughter) I should have played with it at home or something." (Laughter) I was too embarrassed to look over at Steve Hall and see how he was putting his on. (Laughter) So I … I decided to tie into previous learning. The tag always goes in the back. (Laughter) How do you women know about that? (Laughter) Well, I no more than had it on, I knew something was wrong. (Laughter)

It was called a supporter and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was supporting. (Laughter) So now I'm looking over at Steve Hall. "Oh! That's how it goes." (Laughter) I'm too embarrassed to push it off all the way. I thought, maybe I could just turn it around. (Laughter) And as I'm turning it around, my Phy. Ed. teacher sees me. "Hey, everyone, look at this. (Laughter) He doesn't even know how to put on a jock strap!" Ah, of course, everybody looked; and everybody laughed; and I was ready to die inside.

And somehow I made it through that hour of Phy. Ed. class about three laps behind and the last one back to the locker room. And the first thing I did is, I went for the … the big white bowl. And I was sick, physically sick. I had a high fever; I was vomiting. I missed the next two weeks of school, literally ill. [I] dreaded the thought of having to go back there.

I went to church on Sundays. And I had Phy. Ed. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, every other Friday, and if you go back and check my attendance record, I was sick an awful lot on Tuesdays, Thursdays, every other Friday.  I hated school. I just wanted to get out of there.

John: You are listening to Teacher of the Year, Guy Doud on today's Focus on the Family program. And we've got this message available for you on CD or audio download. Those'll have extra content, or you can see Guy tell these stories on DVD when you call 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or Let's go ahead and hear more, now, from Guy Doud.

Guy: I just couldn't wait to quit school. And the counselor called me in. He says, "Guy, you're flunking all your classes." I said, "Yeah, well I just want to quit school." He says, "Well, what would you do?" I said, "Well, in the summer I help out around Haskins gas station. I think I could probably get a job there pumping gas, changing tires. He says, "Well, you're not old enough to quit yet. Just hang in there."

I had to go back to my seventh-grade English class, where I had Mrs. Morey and Mrs. Morey was a taskmaster. Not only did she make us know the names of the Greek gods and goddesses, we had to know their "Norvegian names as vell." (Laughter) And I thought, "What do any of these Greek gods and goddesses have to do with anything? They never even did exist."

But it was this Mrs. Morey, she was a Christian. I didn't know it particularly at that time. She never said it, but she really loved me and she didn't give up on me. She felt it was her job to teach me. And if she couldn't succeed in teaching me, she'd failed. And Mrs. Morey motivated me by getting me involved in speech, extracurricular speech. And I went all the way to the finals of the region tournament in my first year as a seventh grader. I couldn't wait for school to start in eighth grade.

And in the eighth grade I ran into Heinrich Kopka. Heinrich was my eighth-grade math teacher and he'd been a missionary to New Guinea. And he'd worked with Pygmies--a dynamic Christian, Christian man, who never overtly proselytized--but his faith was so evident. It was so real; his life was one of compassion; his life was one of service.

And Mr. Kopka led me to the Lord Jesus Christ in a real way.

By truly befriending me and discipling me, by actually coming to my house and asking my parents if I could go with him to a gospel concert. And coming to my house and asking my parents! I didn’t want him to come to my house. I didn't want him to see the floor. But he came to my house and asked my parents if he could take me to this Billy Graham movie. My parents said “sure”, they thought it was great…

And Mr. Kopka later taught me a little poem:

"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

I'd rather you walk with me than merely point the way.

The eye is a more ready pupil than ever was the ear.

Good advice is often confusing, but example is always clear."

And I became uh, my 8th grade Phy. Ed. teacher was a super guy. He was fatter than I was. I couldn’t do a pull-up, but he’d pat me on the butt, he’d say “Good effort, Guy, good effort!” (laughter and applause) because he couldn’t do one either (laughter, applause, shouts).

And then he says, “How would you like to help manage the junior high football team?”  I thought he wanted me to help coach. I became the manager of the football team, the basketball team, and the track team, went on to become Senior High manager, lettered in all three sports; got initiated into the letterman’s club, had to go through an arduous ritual, to this day I’m not allowed to disclose what I had to do to become a member of the letterman’s club (laughter); safety patrol; uh, I ran for student council every year (never got elected, but they always appointed me ‘member at large.’) (laughter); president of the German club, president of the drama club, and when I was a Senior, I was elected president of the Future Teachers of America club.

And I thought, "Boy, if I could be a teacher like Mr. Card, if I could be a teacher like Mrs. Morey," who I've since found out is just a dynamic Christian lady who saw teaching as a way to put Christ's love in action. "If I could be a teacher like Mr. Kopka ..."

And on April 14, 1986 I was humbled by being asked into the Oval Office to represent all of America's teachers and meet the President of the United States. And there he stood. Walked into the Oval Office and there he was. And he reached out and he grabbed my hand and he said, "I saw you on `Good Morning America' this morning." (Laughter)

And he reached into the vest pocket of his coat and he pulled out this copy of this poem written on a piece of his own personal stationery about the size of a note card--gold presidential seal, his name across the top, you know. And he said, "I came across this poem a number of years ago. It's about the importance of teachers. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to read it to you.”  And I said, (sigh) “Oh, go ahead.” (laughter) That’s a lie. (laughter)

And the President looked at me. He says, "This poem summarizes better than anything I've ever read, how important teachers are in helping mold the lives of kids and I'd like to read it for you." And he looked at me and he said: "Teachers," and I hope you include yourselves.

"You are the molders of their dreams,

The gods (little G) who build or crush their young beliefs of right or wrong.

You are the spark that sets aflame the poet's hand,

Or lights the flame of some great singer's song.

You are the god of the young, the very young.

You are the guardian of a million dreams.

Your every smile or frown can heal or pierce a heart.

Yours are a hundred lives, a thousand lives.

Yours the pride of loving them and the sorrow, too.

Your patient work, your touch, make you the gods of hope,

Who fill their souls with dreams

To make those dreams come true."

And when he was finished reading it, our eyes met and there were tears coming down my cheeks. The President had big tears in his eyes--a very warm, personable man. And he looked at me and he says, "Well (Laughter), if you don't mind my chicken-scratches, I wrote this off in kind of a hurry; you can have this." (In) His own handwriting!  And I took it and I held it; I stared at it. I just … his own handwriting! And I'd read two weeks earlier his signature alone was worth $66! (Laughter) So I started counting up the words, you know? (Laughter) On a teacher's salary … you'd do the same thing on a youth minister's salary. (Laughter)

But, you know, the Apostle Paul writes that our life is a letter that people are reading. And these people would rather see a sermon than hear one any day. And they look to each of us and each of us has the potential to be that molder of dreams.

Thank you for what you do. God bless you, you molders of dreams.


John: Teacher of the Year, Guy Doud on today's edition of Focus on the Family.

Jim: Yeah, John, I wanna tell you I have such great memories of those people that helped me along the way. One was Mrs. Bandy. She wasn't a teacher; she was the elementary school nurse. And, of course, after I lost my mom and my dad and I was in foster care, there were days when I just couldn't cope.

I would out of my class and sit on a sand hill and cry. And Mrs. Bandy would see me out of her office window, and she'd come out, sit beside me, and just put her arm around me. And that meant so much to me - that somebody cared. 'Cause it seemed at the point in my life there was nobody who cared.

Then, like I said at the beginning of the program, my football coach, Paul Morrow, who encouraged me in so many ways, invited me to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp. He paid the $500, I think it was. And that was a lot of money back then for a teacher. And he took me and a couple other guys to camp and that's where I accepted Christ as my Savior. What a huge impact that teacher played in my life. Think about it. And I will forever be in debt to Coach Paul Morrow.

John: Hmmm.  And for so many of us who have kids in school, when a coach or teacher--

Jim: Mmm--

John: --reaches out to them, that's an answer to our prayers. I mean, we have prayed for godly counsel and people to be in our children's lives. Especially when they're in the teens looking for some of the validation that you're talkin' about there, Jim. And we pray for that. Because there can be some pretty bad choices that follow if there isn't some sort of adult intervention and care and and empathy for them.

Jim: That's so true, John. It's typical for a teenager to stop listening to mom and dad. About that age, they're starting to separate. They want to seek validation among their peers, and hopefully among other adults who are wise. And we can pray that they'll have a teacher like Guy Doud in their lives.

Since we last aired this program in 2011 Guy has retired. He's in his early 60's now and has suffered a series of health challenges over the past few years. He would really welcome your prayers for healing in his body. He needs that touch from the Lord.

And if you'd like to share Guy's story with teachers in your life, let me recommend the DVD that we produced called Molder of Dreams. If you get in touch with us today we'll send that to you for a donation of any amount as you support the work here at Focus on the Family.

John: Yeah, in a couple of months it's going to be the end of the school year, so get a copy of that now for one of those special teachers.

Ask about Molder of Dreams, the DVD, when you call 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or donate and request the DVD at

By the way, we've posted that Molder of Dreams poem, written by Clark Mollenhoff, which Guy read. It's at our website in case you'd like to read it again, or print it off, perhaps, for a friend or teacher.

Now, next time, Mike Bechtle will give us an inside tour of the male brain.


Mike Bechtle: A person’s “maleness” is not gonna change. And if a woman understands the maleness of her husband, that's something we can't try and fix.

End of Teaser

John: That's next time on Focus on the Family. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, I'm John Fuller thanking you for listening. Inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive.

  • Featured MP3

    Free Resource of the Month: 40th Anniversary Collection

    Focus on the Family

    This special 40th anniversary collection contains some of our most popular broadcasts with Guy Doud, Mike Adkins, Patricia Ashley, Cynthia Tobias and Ray Vander Laan.

    Read more
  • Featured Event

    Focus on the Family 40th Anniversary Cruise

    Join us on a family–friendly cruise to the Bahamas.

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  • Featured PDF

    Molder of Dreams

    President Ronald Reagan read this poem to Guy Doud when he received the 1986 National Teacher of the Year for the United States of America award.

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    I'd Rather See a Sermon

    Read the poem by Heinrich Kopka which Guy Doud shares toward the end of this two-day program.

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Guy Doud

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As a high school language arts teacher in Brainerd, Minn., Guy Doud received the prestigious National Teacher of the Year award in 1986. Honored at a White House ceremony by President Ronald Reagan, Doud gained national attention and has since become a highly popular motivational speaker. He has also authored several books including the best-selling Molder of Dreams. Guy has four children and resides in Baxter, Minn.

In recent months, Guy has been suffering from several difficult medical problems. Please consider sending him a note of encouragement via his website,