Monday, April 4, 2011

In praise of teachers, Part 3

In my last post about teachers, I want to reflect on the wonderful champions who have coached and taught our children through their early years:

Ginger, the first teacher any of our boys shared your gentle spirit and wisdom with Chris when he was just four years old. You helped him feel more comfortable interacting with other children and helped him to begin exploring the world.

Marty, Chris' second preschool teacher, you helped bring out the best in Chris as a preschooler and you appreciated his quirky nature. Remember when the class had the artist in residence and Chris wanted to be the director instead of appearing in the play? Thanks for humoring him and showing him so much love and acceptance. We really miss seeing you on a regular basis! You are such a bright spark and inspiration.

Cass, you taught both Chris and Kieran in kindergarten. What a wonderful welcome to the public school system you offered to both of them. We appreciated your kindness, genuine love of teaching and your students, and creativity. I can't imagine the boys having a better kindergarten experience!

Beth, Chris was reading when he started first grade but really struggled with writing. You coached him throughout that year and helped him build confidence. You also helped him navigate through a tough social issue that year and handled the situation with gentleness and grace.

Second grade

First day of second grade for Kieran
Renay, I've told you over and over again how delighted we are that you have not retired yet and we get to experience your gifts yet again with Kieran. Ask any parent or child who has experienced your class, and they will gush about you. You are so loving, affirming, and wise, and we feel truly honored to know you and to have you teach our children.

Third grade
Sharon, We loved your passion for education and your creativity in getting your students excited about learning. You taught them about citizenship without them realizing that they were being taught! Chris will always remember his year in "Grayville" with great fondness, and you will always hold a special place in his heart.

Fourth grade

Fifth grade
Liberty and Terri, In fourth and fifth grade, teachers have to be even more engaging to keep their growing students' attention focused on school. You manage to teach life lessons to kids while maintaining a sense of humor and fun. And you deal with things that make me realize I'm glad I'm not a teacher! (You know what I mean.) You have both been such incredible advocates for our elementary school--teachers, students, and kids--and I am one of many grateful parents.


Sydney and Marah, You too have taught two of our boys. Watching you in action, working with a large group of children in their very first school experience, truly amazes me. I love the creative ways you encourage wonder and the love of learning in the children. Each day I volunteer, I can't wait to see what new stations the children get to explore. You are both so dedicated and shower the children with love while helping them learn.

First grade
Patty, When Kieran started first grade, he was practically scared of reading. We didn't know how to help him overcome that obstacle, because Chris made it easy for us by catching on really young. Somehow, you turned him on to reading, and we will always appreciate that! You also really seemed to "get" Kieran's sense of humor and flair for the dramatic. He had a great first grade year because of you.

Elin, One of the things I admire most about you is that you keep your dedication and commitment to teaching excellence in spite of the budget cuts always looming over our heads. It must get really old to not know whether you'll be able to maintain your library/technology position year after next. It takes a real talent to combine these two jobs into one and do it with such excellence. Thank you for maintaining the school's outstanding focus on books and English majors, we love libraries and appreciate you!

First day of first grade
John, you taught our kids and you taught us, even though you were the principal. We feel so lucky that our kids had you leading and advocating for them for so many years. Thank you for knowing all the kids and parents by name; leading the staff, students, and parents by example; knowing how to handle us when we threw a tantrum; and just being a wonderful, compassionate man. We all have been enriched by knowing you.

Jeanne at one of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades
Chris has had some great teachers in middle school too (especially in his block classes)...but most of them have not had as much time with him as his teachers in elementary school. The teacher who has known him the longest is Jeanne, the amazing music teacher at Robert Gray. Because Chris has taken band every year and choir most years, she has been the most constant influence throughout middle school. Because the elementary school had to cut music this year, we feel especially blessed that Gray has such an excellent music program. As a former orchestra geek, I'm also glad that you've tried to keep orchestra alive, even though band is viewed as a much more exciting option by middle school students. Thanks for exciting Chris about music and for teaching him throughout his middle school career.

Chris with his Uncle David, another gifted teacher
Beyond our kids' school teachers, they have learned from so many other people--drama teachers, martial arts teachers, Sunday School teachers, pastors and priests, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others in our community. I cannot let my tribute to teachers pass without mentioning my wonderful brother-in-law David, who teaches adaptive PE in Washington state. He works with kids who have serious learning and behavioral disabilities. I have never seen him in action as a teacher, but I can imagine his calm control of his classes...helping the children to move their bodies in constructive, healthy ways, and acting as a positive, strong role model for all of them. I have no doubt in my mind that he's a gifted teacher, because he's clearly a gifted father and uncle. David's brother and his wife, many of my aunts and uncles, my cousin Cori, and many of my friends are also teachers. I pay homage to all of them!

Cousin Cori
All the scorn being heaped upon teachers has me feeling agonized. What would we do without teachers? Not only is the profession exhausting (they are "on" all day, and they spend their own money and a lot of time preparing after hours)...but they also sacrifice potentially better-paying positions to help the younger generation grow up to be mature, respectful, and wise adults (we hope!). They deserve our gratitude and devotion. Take some time to tell the teachers in your lives how much you love, value, and respect them!


  1. This reminds me how blessed we are by the teachers we've had and still have in our lives!

  2. Thanks, Marie! I am lucky to work in a school that has a wonderful community and communicates how much I am valued, but many teachers work their hearts out without similar support each day. Good point that most of us could be working at much higher paying jobs for shorter hours, but we choose to teach because it is our calling!

  3. Thanks Katie. Your kids are lucky to have you!

  4. I was in my second week of teaching on 9/11/2001. I didn't get to cry until 11pm. I had never realized before that aspect of being "on" that you mention. I had to be calm and reassuring for my students at school, many of whom had parents at the Pentagon or State Department (thought to be a potential target). Then I had to be calm for my kids. When they were down for the night I finally let go. My husband asked why I was still crying, after all it had happened hours ago ... 'yeah, but this is the first time I could cry'.

    I taught for 2 years in the public schools and know that I don't have what that takes. For me, not the kids, but the administration, bureaucracy, stupid tests (multiple choice in math???) ... and the keeping yourself inside/not crossing the line/being warm and open, but not too open/ ...

    Good teachers are heroes!

  5. Wow--I can't imagine what that would have been like. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Yes, they are indeed heroes!!