Thursday, May 2, 2013

Teacher Appreciation

Different people have different thoughts about teachers and teacher appreciation.  Maybe you appreciate a past teacher because she hugged you when you cried or helped you learn something that was exciting.  Maybe she was just the nicest part of your day.  For whatever reason every one of us can think back in cobwebbed filled memories and remember at least one teacher who inspired us to be better.
For me I have 2 inspirational teachers.  My mother taught school for years and was known as a compassionate, loving, caring, sweet teacher.  Kids loved her and still say hi to her years later when they see her at Wal-Mart.  I've always thought how wonderful it must be to be that loved that decades after teaching someone they'd want to come tell you about their life.  I hug my students and tell them I love them because she inspired me to be loving with my students.
My inspiration for my teaching comes from someone else also.  When I was in the 3rd grade my teacher was retiring.  She often yelled at us and I honestly have no recollection of her ever leaving her chair behind that big, metal, green desk.  (And now you all have an idea of how old I am based on the color of that desk.) When I left her class I was no better than when I entered. 
I went on the to the fourth grade where the teacher again never seemed to leave that desk at the top of the class full of rows of chairs.  She often had me rubbing her shoulders and grading papers for her.  I again was no better when I left that class than when I entered. 
 At this point I felt stupid and worthless.  I also felt terrified because I had been assigned to the math class of one Mrs. Sue Calaway.  She had a reputation of being the meanest teacher in the school.  Kids told me that I'd hate the class and that she hated kids.  I was so scared and wide eyed at the wonder of when she was going to yell and scream and tell me I was stupid.  None of that ever happened. 
I can't remember how she found out, but she quickly realized that I was a 5th grader who could not add or subtract, and she needed me to multiply.  I remember crying and telling her that I didn't know how.  I am 37 years old and can remember this statement like it was yesterday.  She looked at me and said "Well honey you will learn."  Even now as I think about this tears fill my eyes.
Mrs. Sue Calaway believed in me.  She pushed me and held high expectations for me.  She never let me quit and made me believe in myself.  I was never scared of her only scared I'd let her down.  I was on top of the world when every time I'd pass a timed multiplication test in her class.  I can still remember finishing before time was up, looking up at her face, and her wonderful smile that let me know she was proud of me.
Because of life and the way time goes by faster than we'd ever wish it to I lost track of her, and was never able to explain to her how much she meant to me.  27 years after she touched my heart and my life I was able to reach out and talk to her.  I told her how she was an inspiration to me and my teaching.
I push my students and hold great expectations for them.  I know what they are capable of and want them to feel that wonderful feeling of "I got it!"  Mrs. Sue Calaway is a lady who I put up on a pedestal for years, and after talking with her tonight for the first time in 27 years I remember why.
Thank you, Mrs. Calaway, for believing me and not letting me slip through the cracks.  Thank you for pushing me and helping to mold me into the person and teacher I am today.  I look forward to knowing you as an adult.


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