Wednesday, February 19, 2014
“Education is about changing lives.” That sounds so cliché, but it is true. From the approximate ages of five to 22, students spend the majority of their days with teachers. Not only are educators providing opportunities to enhance students’ futures by teaching them in the classroom, educators are shaping students’ ideas, ideals, and outlook regarding this journey called life.
If I close my eyes, I can still hear and see them…
Mrs. Nelson, first grade, “You are so good at this (reading).” Her encouragement allows you to have confidence.
Mrs. Childers, third grade, meeting you at the door with a smile and a hug, letting you know that this is going to be a great day. Her genuine love for you makes you feel secure in her classroom.
Mrs. Wing, fourth grade, a missionary kid, who shocks 20 ten-year old children by wearing a bone in her up-do, painting her fingernails with dots, and giving a glimpse into a world beyond our city limits. he teaches her students to look beyond what they see and dream about possibilities.
Mrs. Gibbs, sixth grade, deals with the diagnosis of cancer with determination and grit. She doesn’t care if her wig falls off as she participates in the obstacle course. It is just life. She doesn’t give easy grades. If work is not up to par, she demands a signed contract to hold students accountable to perform at their highest level of skill. If she is at school every day, her students know that they have no excuse. They can overcome life’s obstacles, too.
Mrs. Murphy, eighth grade, arrives at school early and stays late, waiting in the classroom for students to walk in and ask for help in order to understand Algebra II. She doesn’t have to be there, she wants to be there. She understands that this is a crucial time in a young person’s life, and success can be the difference in staying in school or dropping out.
These are just a few of my memories of educators who have influenced my life. None of these memories have anything to do with reading, writing, or arithmetic. Oh, there was plenty of that during my K-12 grade education. Yet, my memories of past teachers are those flashbacks and voices reminding that I am valued, capable, and loved. Often, I’ve wondered if my teachers remembered the past in the same way.
A few weeks ago, I went to pay tribute to Mrs. Wing. As I walked into the funeral home, there they were…Mrs. Nelson, Mrs. Childers, and many others – they hadn’t changed a bit. And in their eyes, neither had I. I smiled as I heard someone say, “Well, there’s little Nena. We were just talking about you. How are you doing?” I share my life stories with them, news about my family and my current job in education. Mrs. Nelson says she always knew I was going to do something great. Mrs. Childers smiles, gives me a hug, and laughs as she recalls an incident from our third grade year. The others come over, and we all stay awhile to reminisce of days gone by. My stories were their stories, intertwined in memories of the past.
Those words of encouragement, hugs, lessons of determination shaped my life and my choice to become “one of them” – a life-changer.
Advisor/Field Placement Coordinator