From day one, I loved school. I don’t know why, or for what reason, because for me I always struggled academically a little. I was excited when our oldest child was about to start kindergarten, but about 3 months in I was ready for her to be done and back home with me. And that’s when I realized that when my kids went to school they would spend more time with their teacher in a day then they would with me. I realized that whoever their teacher(s) were going to be, they would have a huge influence over them.
Half way through my summer after 2nd grade my brother passed away. I don’t remember having thoughts about not wanting to go back to school, maybe I did, I don’t remember. But I am sure my mother had thoughts of tucking me under her arm and not letting me go anywhere. But she didn’t do that, instead, although we have never discussed this, I am sure that she spent many hours ensuring that I would have an amazing teacher for 3rd grade that would keep an eye on me. So on that first day of 3rd grade, I walked into Mrs. Robbins classroom and my entire educational experience was altered, and so was my life.
Mrs. Robbins, not only made sure she fulfilled the academic requirements for me, she also fulfilled such selfless acts like loving me, and loving on me and getting to know the real me, my interests and I was. As I said, academics aren’t my strong suit – while the other kids were completing classwork and I was stargazing, she would pull me to the back chalk board and reteach it to me, until I got it. She would stay after school with me, sit on the floor with real money with me…until I got it. I owe her with knowing what multiplication I do know. And I owe her for coming up next to me and knowing when I needed to be loved on, because my heart was broken, because my brother’s friends were down the hallway, and he was not. She spent time with me after school and on the weekends, took me for ice cream and even drove us around in her convertible. I was pretty sure there would never be another teacher like her on the planet.
34 years later…my youngest child walked into Room 46, and he will never be the same. After you have had 4 children all go through one school, you pretty much know all the teachers. At least to see them, even if they weren’t your child’s core teacher. But not one of our children ever had the teacher in Rm 46. I didn’t know her style, her personal background or personality….I was a little uneasy. The first few weeks of school are a blur, as the hubby was away for 5 weeks straight and I missed all the ‘Meet the Teacher’ nights at all the schools – so who this lady was still eluded me. I just prayed she was going to be a good match for our son. Of all the years I had children at this same school, if I count it up individually it is 23 years, we have only had one or two glitches, and it was mostly based on personality conflicts. We love our school, the teachers and staff.
As the year progressed, it was easy to see that our son was falling in love with his teacher in Rm 46. She was all he talked about. He also started cheering for the Eagles to win all their games…weeks into football season, we found out that if they won, the kids wouldn’t have homework the next day 🙂 From every little thing he brought home, every story, every assignment and every time I was in his classroom, it was clear…she was intentional, and everything was lovingly thought out. Not only did everything have academic purpose, it also had life purpose and love behind it. She changed the way our son looked at school – and included cutting edge ideas in her classroom, like alternative seating and a twitter account (wish I could figure out twitter completely, well and technology in general). But the thing that really got my attention was how she spoke to the kids. I have been in our children’s classrooms and gone on a few field trips, but never have I heard a teacher speak to the kids the way she does. With purpose, with passion, with love, on their level, eye to eye.
She showed up at two of our son’s football games, one after she had moved an hour away. I watched her during two conferences talk to our son. The entire time he was talking, she was smiling, she kept eye contact with him the entire time. When she spoke to him, she never took her eyes off of him. She was encouraging, empowering, compassionate, and loving. She said things like, “I think maybe you’re being a little hard on yourself, I see you as a very dedicated student.”, “you are an awesome kid, ok? Remember that you are an awesome kid.” , ” I know you are going to be successful in 5th grade” , “you are such a great friend to the other kids.”. I was pretty sure by mid May I knew her heart. Then just last week I was in Rm 46 on the last full day of school and she dismissed a few kids, they went up to her and gave her a hug…and she turned her back to me, and when she turned back around, her face was tear streaked, and she tried to smile and said, “this is the hardest part, letting them go.” And that was it, it was all confirmed.
So we’ve been trying to decide on a gift for her…this kid of of mine and I….”we should get her pizza, she loves pizza”. Hummm, not exactly what I had in mind kiddo, but we are hoping she will be at our next pizza night. So here is what we decided to get the teacher in Rm 46…exactly what she gave our son and her other students all year long, however, I fear this doesn’t even begin to express what is in our hearts….
You are an amazingly gifted teacher. Not only have you been given the gift to teach, but also to encourage and empower. You have always taken the opportunity to pour into each and every child in your class. You don’t take your position for granted and have seized the opportunity to not only create great students and encourage their learning but you have chosen to learn who each child is and give each one exactly what they need to be successful. You are a light not just in your classroom but in the community. You have a genuine heart to serve and it comes shining through in everything you do. Your positive outlook and enthusiasm for everything in life is a testimony to the person God created you to be. You have been blessed with the gift of empowering others with words, and you do it so eloquently. You have changed the course of not just our son’s life, but the lives of all the students you come in contact with. You are a true blessing, and very special gift from God. Thank you for being you!