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"I am #2"

Thursday, September 21, 2017 by John Cunningham, ACE 25 Intern

I am #2 - John Cunningham ACE Teaching Fellows

During my sophomore year of high school, I first heard the call to serve. Ms. McGuire, my literature teacher at Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, asked the class to pick a dream job. For some reason, my response was “teacher.”

A little later that year, I attended the Oklahoma State Student Council Convention and listened to Ted Wiese share a story about a hotel receptionist. This receptionist wore a button that said, “I am #2” because she saw all the guests as #1 (Hear Ted tell the story, 5:28-6:33). After hearing that, each hotel guest stood a little taller and smiled. Such a simple impact made the biggest difference.

After Ted’s presentation, I bought a button of my own and wore it every day for the rest of sophomore, junior, and senior years at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. From friends and teachers in class to the Bishop of Raleigh, everyone asked why I was #2. My answer evoked the same reaction from them as it did for the hotel receptionist.

The button is simple, the interaction is simple, and the result is constant: a smile. The more I wore the button, the meaning behind it became more profound. Putting others before myself by recognizing them as #1 reinforced the idea that I am supposed to be a servant to others.

That is why I wanted to join ACE Teaching Fellows: to serve.

That is why I wanted to join ACE Teaching Fellows: to serve.

ACE is an opportunity for me to answer God’s call to serve others in His name. As an ACE teacher, I have the responsibility to be a positive influence in the lives of children and energize them in the classroom and their communities.

In the coming years as an ACE Teaching Fellow, one of my goals is to answer a parent’s prayer. Each night, parents pray for their children, and I hope God gives me the opportunity to be an answer to that prayer. Whether it means providing a quality education, listening to a student’s needs, or being a positive role model, I pray for the opportunity. I want to pay forward to the next generation’s students what my teachers did for me.

God’s call to serve others led me to teaching. I desperately want to help people, and through the mission of ACE, I will have that opportunity. Being a teacher will be a great challenge, and I look forward to inviting others to serve with me and making the students #1.


Interested in learning how you can answer a parent's prayer by serving with ACE? Visit ace.nd.edu/teach and request more information!