The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~ W. Ward

I’d like to tell you a story. A story about a boy who wanted to learn to sail, and he would not take no for an answer… his name is Morgan.

I began teaching at a pretty young age and I began as many instructors do: summer sailing camp. It was the BEST. JOB. EVER. I mean I was paid to go out in a zodiac and run around the bay corralling kids and helping them understand the fine art of heading up and bearing away. Doesn’t get much better than that!

I spent several summers teaching in Hamilton, and then I went out West to visit my uncle in Vancouver and was spellbound by the mountains. I knew what I had to do. Move West.

Since I was the ripe ol’ age of 16, there was no way my parents were letting me leave for good, so we agreed on a summer job. The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (RVYC) answered my call and I became a dinghy coach for the summer. This is where I met Morgan.


I was on my third or fourth week of summer camp and so far everything was going great. The kids were great. The boats were great. My colleagues were great. The Mountains were majestic. You get the picture.

This week ended up being the most rewarding week of my teaching career thus far. You see, Morgan was here to learn to sail, but he had no hands and no feet.

Each day Morgan shared a boat with a partner and went out sailing with a huge grin on his face. He was the hardest working and most resilient kid I had ever met. He loved every minute he was out there and unless you paid close attention you would really not know that he was having to work a bit harder than everyone else.


I asked Morgan one morning if he was tired of sailing with other kids and if he wanted to sail on his own. Absolutely!

That evening I set to work with an arson of cleats, pulleys, and ropes, and I re-rigged one of our optis. I don’t even know if I asked RVYC if they were ok with it… I just decided it needed to be done.

The next day I presented Morgan with his new boat and off he went! He sailed circles around the other kids hooting and hollering the entire time. He even pirated another boat and jumped into their sail capsizing them in the process. I have never felt my heart so full.

The last day of our camp Morgan presented me with this card:


It is my most prized sailing possession to date and I keep it on my bedside table to remind myself that anyone can do anything when someone believes in them. My goal as a teacher is not just to be good. My goal is to be great and to inspire others one “Morgan” at a time.

Fair winds,

Captain Penny

1 Comment

  1. I am glad I can write this as I am too choked up totally. Penny, you unfold to me every day in just how wonderful you are, not just for what you did but also for showing the courage and joy of Morgan. Love you, Beth

Leave a Reply