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Sometimes They Teach You
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 10/16/2017

Student The following is an installment in "Icebreakers 101: The College Edition", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

To some, this may sound cliché or even cheesy. But, I do not care! That is because this is a true story. Sometimes, you learn or relearn valuable lessons from your students.

After a decade and a half of teaching, I thought that I had seen everything. Yet, on December 8, 2014, I learned that there was more to see. All student in my CJC 103 class were taking the final exam. All seemed peaceful and routine. My mind drifted to what I needed to do once I returned home.

Amid the diligent scribbles of students demonstrating their knowledge on paper, the crackle of a radio jarred the room. The voice attached to that crackle emanated from a student’s volunteer firefighter radio. That radio belonged to student Nick. I watched Nick as the voice on the radio called for responders to the Copper Country Mall maintenance room where there was smoke. Nick was a third of the way through his final looked up and said, “I have to go!”

Like a flash, Nick ran to the scene of the hazard.

A potentially dangerous fire was in the mall/college complex and Nick was the first person there. He and others contained the hazard and maintained calm while fire trucks arrived. The fire did not spread and all inside were safe.

Nick is such a polite person that when he returned to his exam, he said, “I am sorry.” He downshifted from the adrenal infusion and completed the exam. His humility was amazing.

I am glad that Nick was on hand on that night. I commend him for his dedication, knowledge and training, and his humility. I am thankful that he and his team members were able to keep me and the rest of the students and instructors safe.

What did I relearn? One of my chief goals is to acclimate students to the many dangers inside the walls without inspiring panic. If that lesson is well absorbed, then I consider it a successful semester. On occasion, a student will demonstrate to me that he or she understands how to act under pressure. Nick did just that on December 8. And for that, I am grateful. Sometimes you can teach students how to react under pressure. Sometimes, they teach you.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence". The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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