One of my earliest lessons in generosity happened in the lunch ticket line. In first grade, I went directly to the lunch ticket line after getting off of the school bus. Many days, all I needed to buy was a milk ticket. On this particular morning, that was the case. I pulled out the little coin purse that held my lunch money, and the dime I needed to buy my milk ticket was nowhere to be found. This was the first time in my life that I remember getting very upset when things weren’t as they were supposed to be. I began to cry.

One of the junior high school teachers, Mr. Jones, saw me crying. He came over and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I lost my dime and couldn’t pay for my milk ticket. Without missing a beat, he reached into his pocket and gave me a dime. This was the first time in my life I remember someone giving me something without question. I calmed down, got back in line, and paid for my milk ticket.

I told my parents about Mr. Jones and the dime. They said that we would pay him back. The school Halloween festival was a few weeks later and Mr. Jones was there with his family. My parents gave me a dime and I went up to him to pay him back. He didn’t put up a fuss or refuse to take it. He put it in his pocket and that was that.

Or so I thought until I had Mr. Jones for English class in both junior high and high school. The dime is something we bonded over. There were several times over the course of our years together that either he would bring me a dime, or I would bring him a dime. A few years ago, he even gave a dime to my parents.

Small Town Leadership Lesson – Through my experience with “the dime” , I learned that people are generous and kind. I also learned that there is no need to feel ashamed when things don’t go as planned. There was no need for me to cry, I could have just asked for help.

Who has been a Mr. Jones in your life? Who has shown up in a moment when you needed him or her? Equally as important – when have you been the Mr. Jones figure? In a world where it is very easy to pass by a stranger in distress or to avoid eye contact with someone who needs a helping hand, how are you stepping in to help others?

Mr. Jones – if you are reading this, thank you! Without teachers like you, I wouldn’t have the knowledge and passion to be publishing my writing on a weekly basis.  To those of you who play the role of Mr. Jones in your community, thank you, too!



Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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