Friday, May 7, 2010

Back to the Future

I'm completely convinced that teachers are the unsung heroes of our culture. Perhaps my viewpoint is a bit slanted by the fact that both my parents were dedicated teachers of the highest caliber. Their intelligence, humor, dedication and passion for education made an indelible impression on me. I also sat in the schoolroom of some amazing teaching professionals that no doubt have shaped my thinking and outlook more than I realize.

Mrs. Wread was my beloved first grade teacher. What an appropriate name, and it's fun to think of how her love of reading influenced me. I’m thinking that the formative experience with her loving encouragement set the stage for my love of school. I really did love it, but would scarcely admit that once I realized that wasn’t “cool”, which was some years later.

I could go through a hall of fame of teachers who made a difference in my life, ending with Mrs. Repulski, my senior high English teacher who was strict, hard and inspired us to like Shakespeare. I still don't buy blue ink pens to this day because that was forbidden in her class. I’m pretty sure if I filled in the names of terrific teachers I had between 1st & 12th grade, your eyes would glaze over as if I were making you sit through home movies. I do find it interesting that I don't remember even one of my college professors. Kinda sad.

I’ll fast forward and share a piece on teachers that I’ve read many, many times since the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book was published. This piece called “I am a Teacher” is in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week. I’m also participating in Flash Back Friday with Mocha With Linda, my book-fanatic friend. Go by and say Hi -you’ll be happy to meet a talented lady. This may look long but I hope you love it as much as I do...
I Am A Teacher

I am a Teacher. I was born the first moment that a question leaped from the mouth of a child. I have been many people in many places. I am Socrates exciting the youth of Athens to discover new ideas through use of questions. I am Anne Sullivan tapping out the secrets of the universe into the outstretched hand of Helen Keller. I am Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen revealing truth through countless stories. I am Marva Collins fighting for every child’s right to an education.

The names of those who have practiced my profession ring like a hall of fame for humanity…Booker T. Washington, Buddha, Confucious, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Leo Buscagalia, Moses and Jesus. I am also those whose names and faces have long been forgotten but whose lessons and character will always be remembered in the accomplishments of their students.

I have wept for joy at the weddings of former students, laughed with glee at the birth of their children and stood with head bowed in grief and confusion by graves dug too soon for bodies too young. Throughout the course of a day I have been called to be an actor, friend, nurse and doctor, coach, finder of lost articles, money lender, taxi driver, psychologist, substitute parent, salesman, pediatrician and a keeper of the faith.

I am a paradox. I speak loudest when I listen the most. My greatest gifts are in what I am willing to appreciatively receive from my students.

Material wealth is not one of my goals, but I am a full-time treasure seeker in my quest for new opportunities for my students to use their talents and in my constant search for those talents that sometimes lie buried in self-defeat.

I am the most fortunate of all who labor. A doctor is allowed to usher life into the world in one magic moment. I am allowed to see that life is reborn each day with new questions, ideas and friendships. An architect knows that if he builds with care, his structure may stand for centuries. A teacher knows that if he builds with love and truth, what he builds will last forever.

I am a warrior, daily doing battle against peer pressure, negativity, fear, conformity, prejudice, ignorance and apathy. But I have great allies. Intelligence, Curiosity, Parental Support, Individuality, Creativity, Faith, Love and Laughter all rush to my banner with indomitable support.

And so I have a past that is rich in memories. I have a present that is challenging, adventurous and fun because I am allowed to spend my days with the future.
I am a teacher… and I thank God for it every day.

John W. Schlatter in Chicken Soup for the Soul


Let'sMakeADifference said...

Just found your blog! How interesting about using blue pens!! Oh, the power of teachers!

Mocha with Linda said...

I love this. Thanks for sharing your great memories and the essay.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Wonderful memories!


skoots1mom said...

VERY well stated :)

Reasons said...

Very nice post. Poignent. have a lovely weekend.x

quilly said...

Thank you for sharing that, "I Am a Teacher" piece. I have never read it before, but I love it. I am a teacher, and I do think it is an honor and a privilege to get to help kids shape their futures.

rita said...

Great tribute to teachers!

My ADHD Me said...

I loved this!
Mrs Wread!! Awesome name for a teacher!

It's sad that teachers, police officers and the like are so underpaid and "pop-stars" and athletes make millions!

Happy Mother's Day!!