Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Mrs. S

Many teachers have been significant but few have been memorable. Mrs. S my 3rd grade teacher showed me how being a cheerleader for your students can be the most important lesson learned. She was a young mother and always pleasant even when we were not. She shared the same May birthday with me and I adored her. Maybe it was the birthday thing or maybe it was she was and I bet still is a really decent woman.

I learned how to count in French which seemed so exotic and exciting. Oh to know another language.  It felt special to know a different language. How empowering that was to feel knowledgeable. That was the year I gained some confidence. It was a much needed dose of encouragement for a painfully shy little girl.. She was the first teacher I worked hard for, I wanted to be better for her. I wanted to make her proud that I learned from her.

Her classroom was welcoming and cheerful. I remember seeing bright posters and other organizational things but it was never overwhelming. She had the perfect balance between eye catching excitiment and functionality. The one thing she had that was very different was a classroom fish tank. The fish tank in her classroom was filled with fish donated by students. So I imagine each year was a different experince. My class had a generous donation of two "kissing" fish. Fish I had never seen before. Each day I loved seeing those "kissing fish" swim around the tank. Those two fish made our tank special. Oh to have a fish. It seemed so different from my boring dogs. It's amazing how what we have known in our life can become so ordinary. I still am amazed by my memories of being impressed by a fish tank.

Mrs. S was pretty but not overly so pretty that you would think she needed to spend hours getting ready for the day. She was practical and clever. I respected her for her empathy and her love of teaching. For years after third grade I brought her flowers on her birthday, walking the 3 miles to the school from a florist. I stopped bringing her flowers after middle school. By that point it had been several years in a row of her taking the day off I felt it was not worth it to be let down again, to not see her. It never occurred to me that she had always taken the day off to celebrate. She did not the year I was in her class. I hope that she noted that what she did for her students was important and that she always maintained her same positive teaching as she with me.

What she taught me was patience. To be observant of those in need. To give encouragemet to the kids who needed that extra boost and above all love your students. Without that love and caring attitude she showed me I would have withered away. I always think of her when I teach. I ask myself to constantly look for the kids who get lost in the shuffle. Look for the kids who need a gentle smile to feel a sense of comfort. To be a supportive fun teacher who is willing to do something extra like teach a class of kids a new language only because you think it would be something fun to do. Learning for the fun of it is such an important lesson we can pass on to children. For that I am thankful.

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