Living a Life of Service in Education

By Jeff Martin
Assistant Professor, College of Education

teacher tutoring with a student

As a professor in the College of Education, I strive to think about how the three pillars of the college’s conceptual framework of “Learning, Leading and Serving” can be applied to our everyday lives. A few weeks ago, we had a unique experience in my family that I think is a perfect example of serving.

My wife, Joleen, and I have several properties we rent on Airbnb as vacation rentals. We have guests from all over the world come to Phoenix to stay in our places. The beginning of October I received a notice of a new booking at one of our homes from a woman named Stephanie who was from New York City. She sent a note saying she was coming to Phoenix for her graduation and she would be there with several family members.

I looked at the calendar and quickly put two and two together. She had to be coming for the GCU graduation. I sent her back a message telling her what my name is and my role as a professor in the College of Education. Within a few minutes she sent me back a message confirming what I already knew. She was one of ours!

What threw me for a loop was when she said she had me for a class several years ago, and I was her favorite teacher — even though I gave her a B+! We joked back and forth that night through the messaging system, and Joleen and I both knew right away we needed to do something special for her and her family.

Joleen has been an online counselor for nearly five years, and she was probably more excited than I was about this surprise. So right away, we started contacting everyone we knew who had a key to the “swag closet” to see what kind of goodies we could come up with. We were able to create a great gift basket full of banners, pens, decals, mugs and all things purple. We placed it on the kitchen table the day they arrived and waited for their response. To say she was excited would be an understatement. They were all so appreciative that we thought about them on her special day and asked us to be sure and thank everyone involved in any way for them.

While in town, Stephanie and her family did not sit still. On Thursday they woke up early and headed to the Grand Canyon. Then on Friday they made a Vegas run! She said you can’t come from NYC and get this close to both historic places without going, right? While in Vegas, they picked up a few souvenir gifts for us as a thank you for our hospitality. While we are still fairly new hosts with these vacation rentals, there’s little doubt that Stephanie and her family will always be at the top of our favorite guest list.

More about Jeff Martin:

Dr. Martin is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Grand Canyon University and teaches online full time. Prior to coming to GCU, he spent 18 years in middle and high school classrooms as an English teacher in Arizona. His wife, Joleen, is a University Counselor at GCU. They have three daughters, two of whom attend GCU both online and ground respectively. When he’s not grading benchmark essays, he enjoys riding his motorcycle and collecting electric guitars. ‘Lopes Up!

If you’re interested in implementing principles of service to help the leaders of tomorrow become kind and compassionate leaders, visit the College of Education or fill out the form on this page to speak to a university counselor to learn more.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.