I found out this week that the most amazing teacher I know is retiring, so in honor of her, and all the wonderful teachers who have touched my kids lives and so many other families’ as well, this week's blog post is for you:
Dear Amazing Teacher,
I knew I liked you the day I met you, with your welcoming smile and your warm hugs for uneasy incoming students. But I grew to LOVE you when you spoke with me at the end of the first day of school.
“Mrs. Deuter?” You said. “I don’t want you to be alarmed, but your son had kind-of a tough day. He didn’t eat his carefully packed lunch and he didn’t want to play or interact with the other kids at recess. I tried to nudge him to go play with the kids, but he started to cry, so I just held him on my lap. I’m sure he’ll warm up. Just thought you should know.”
We talked every day for the first two weeks of school, just to check in. Everyday he rejected lunch. Everyday you held him close at recess. He came home after school and crashed out on the couch from the exhaustion of the day. He was clearly feeling overwhelmed. You assured me he would adjust, that in twenty years of teaching, they always adjusted. So we hung in there. And then one day he hopped up and trotted off to swing at recess without looking back, and that was that.
Your gentleness and patience had gotten him through. I’m sure you might have liked to take a break for yourself during recess, maybe sneak off to the restroom, during those long two weeks. But you apparently cared more about a nervous little boy than your own personal needs.
In itself, what you had done would have been heroic, shepherding not just him, but his parents through those stressful days. But that was just the beginning. Within a few more weeks, my anxious boy began to say he loved his teacher and he loved his school. You taught him that school was a wonderland of fun. That teachers were silly and full of energy and lots and lots of hugs. And you taught him to love to read by dressing up as Russell the Farting Dog. You laid the foundation for how he would feel about school. You were safe and joyful and fabulous.
Two years later, we were blessed to have our daughter land in your classroom, too. You taught her that dancing in the morning would warm up her brain for learning. She still does that. You demonstrated that living your passions is beautiful. She wanted to be you. You told her if she really runs for president some day, you’ll definitely vote for her. She has never forgotten that.
At parent conferences, you placed your hand warmly over your heart and looked us in the eyes and said, “I love your child so much,” and you clearly meant it. I bet you said that to many, many parents over the years, and I believe it was absolutely true every time.
Children thrive on warmth and love and every parent wants to send their child into a classroom as full of it as yours was. It was no coincidence that experienced parents requested to have their kids in your room. They wanted to benefit from your magic, have it pay dividends for years to come like it has for my family.
How does a parent thank a teacher for what you have given us? Are there even words? You exemplify the idea that teaching is a calling, a labor of love. The bonds you’ve made with my children, and countless others in all your years of teaching have been the foundation for their educational lives. You taught them how to learn, and most importantly, how to have fun doing it. Teaching really can change the world. And you changed ours for the better!
So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and from every parent who has been honored to have a child land in your loving, giving hands. Enjoy retirement, take a bathroom break when you need one, and know what an impact you’ve made!
For Patti SampsonC