Once again, it is upon us. The dawn of a new school year looms on the near horizon, ushering forth every emotion from uncontrollable excitement and anticipation to a dread and anxiety rivaled only by root canals. It’s time to go back to school, my brothers and sisters!
Oh, smile – it could be worse. I mean, you could have to take your little sister and ten of her screaming, pre-teen friends to a Justin Bieber concert.
Now realize it or not, your identity is formed by several people beyond your family, including priests and religious, youth ministers and Core, coaches, bosses, friends, etc. Teachers, however, play a special and ongoing role in your moral and social development, not just your academic growth.
Recognizing this, I’d like to dedicate this short reflection to all those people who for so many years have dedicated themselves to the often thankless and perpetually underpaid field of education. Teachers deserve our thanks and our praise. In my own life, there are many that I’d like to thank personally… as I am sure you would, too. Teens, think back a few years; adults, journey back with me.
School is in session.
Miss Anderson – A great storyteller, I could have listened to you for hours. Thank you for that gold star, the picture stayed on the fridge for almost three years.
Miss Volpe – Thanks for not calling my Mom over the “scissors incident.” To Stacy, wherever you are now – twenty eight years later – believe me when I say “I’m sorry.” I hope it all grew back.
Mrs. McFarley – We all knew that you smoked but thank you for never doing it in front of us.
Mrs. Berry – Those state capitals have saved me at more boring cocktail parties…
Mrs. Meyerson – Instead of endlessly preaching about chlorophyll or the joys of photosynthesis, you had us sit underneath the tree with you while you taught. Now that was wisdom.
Mrs. Argenson – I can still hear you pounding those scissors against the metal desk. I learned more because your classroom was disciplined. Thank you for that gift.
Miss Dotson – You were my first teacher crush, and when you told me “nice job” on the frog dissection, I think we shared a moment.
Mrs. Swatowski – I know that at times you’d wished that they had not outlawed corporal punishment. Sorry that I didn’t look at Twain or Shakespeare the same way that I do now. You were right.
Mr. Miller – I know that I had a smart mouth, and now that I’m a little older, I try to use the respect for others that you preached and displayed. Thank you for offering respect before expecting it.
Sra. Hernandez – You made learning fun. Teachers like you are rare, and I still remember a few phrases: “Mi hermano esta en la cocina con un martillo.” (My brother is in the kitchen with a hammer.) Not bad, huh?
Mr. Hegarty – I no longer use square roots or proofs, but I retained the concepts you taught and I’m beginning to understand the importance of seeing through the problem to find the solution.
Mrs. Harrison – Thank you for not letting me settle for less than I could during my final year. You gave me my first and only “D” – ever – on a paper that truly deserved it. I’m a better writer, husband, father and teacher now because of that accountability and the lesson that I learned about effort and attitude.
To all of these teachers and the thousands like you who have sacrificed so much I say thank you. May you be rewarded someday for all you have accomplished with what you had to work with and may our children’s children be fortunate enough to benefit from encountering people like you.
School is back in session – but the reality is that learning never takes a vacation.