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The Pencil Tale

I’ve learned to create at the computer keyboard, but my favorite writing experience continues to be by pencil (with eraser), legal pad and a pot of hot coffee. Thus, I’ve enjoyed this anonymous parable of the pencil.

An old pencil maker took his newest pencil aside, just before he was about to pack him into a box. Imagining the little fellow as a person, he recalled a few things about the pencil.

“There are five things you need to know,” he said to his pencil, “before I send you out into the world. Always remember these five things – never forget them – and you will become the best pencil you can be!

“The first thing is to remember that you will be able to do many great things, but only if you put yourself in someone else’s hands.

“From time to time you will experience a painful sharpening, but remember that this will make you a better pencil.

“Also, keep in mind that you will be able to correct any mistakes you might make along the way.

“And the most important part of you is what’s on the inside.

“And remember this, as well, upon every surface that you are used, you must leave your mark. No matter what else happens, you must continue to write.”

Posted in: Perspective

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 45 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for nine years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is chair of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation for 2018.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.