Ninety-one years of living and leaving behind a wife of 50 years and five kids. Not too shabby, as they say, and the accolades keep coming in. In the case of Charles Osgood, all well deserved.

A CBS newsman for 45 years, he stood tall among journalists for his integrity, fair and unbiased reporting, too. Even earned five Emmy Awards. A Renaissance man if ever there were one: a model journalist, he was also a gifted storyteller, author, poet, and musician.

For my eighth-grade students, though, Charles Osgood was a teacher, his life-changing lesson coming to them by way of a poem…

The Pretty Good Student
By Charles Osgood

There once was a pretty good student who sat in a pretty good class and
Was taught by a pretty good teacher who always let pretty good pass.
He wasn’t terrific at reading; he wasn’t a whiz bang at math,
But for him, education was leading down a pretty good path.

He didn’t find school too exciting, but he wanted to do pretty well.
He did have trouble with reading, and nobody taught him to spell.
In doing arithmetic problems, pretty good was regarded as fine.
Five and five needn’t always add to ten; a pretty good answer was nine.

The pretty good student was happy with the standards that were in effect,
And nobody thought it was sappy if his answers were not quite correct.
The pretty good class he sat in was part of a pretty good school,
And the student was not the exception; on the contrary, he was the rule.
The pretty good student was, in fact, part of a pretty good mob.

The first time he knew what he lacked was when he looked for a pretty good job.
It was then when he saw that position, he discovered that life could be tough,
And he soon had a sneaking suspicion that pretty good might not be good enough.

The pretty good town in the story was part of a pretty good state,
Which had pretty good aspirations and prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was a pretty good nation, pretty proud of the greatness it had,
But which learned much too late, if you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.

~ With thanks, a lesson for us all…

~ Carol