Appreciating Teachers

I am a day late, but I want to take some time and do some teacher appreciation. Yesterday was the official National Teacher Day and the National Education Association asked people to give a shout out to amazing teachers. There have been some lovely examples published already, but I would like to do my own part in this. When I think about it, I can’t choose just one. I have to make a list.

There is:

My fifth grade teacher at Sinclairville Elementary, Mrs. Waite who was the best read aloud story teller in my memory. Even as fifth graders, I remember the whole class sitting quietly and absorbing the chapter books chosen thoughtfully by her.

My high school art teacher, Mr. Wolfe who was also my yearbook advisor. He was cool and funny and he gave me an A in art because I loved it so much – even though I couldn’t draw worth a darn. He appreciated the creativity that I did have.

Of course, my high school English teacher, Mrs. French who started the first day of class by letting us know that she would not tolerate any nonsense. Each of us left that room yakking about how mean she was. By the end of the year, she was an icon of wisdom, intellect and kindness to me. She nurtured my love of literature. She introduced me to Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle and, in so doing, provided me lifelong friends.

My college botany professor, Michael Frohlich who would get so excited talking about weird orchids.

Teachers of Sam and Ali who seemed to have time for every child and who let me in their classrooms whenever I wanted.

And finally, my Ali. Ali is about to finish her second year of teaching first graders at a charter school in New Orleans. I have had the opportunity to spend a couple days in that classroom and see my own little girl take charge. In a room of 25+ six year olds – most of whom come from very challenging circumstances – she teaches reading, spelling, math, science, and social studies. Her children get excited about books. They love a pet goldfish. They are proud of words they can spell. They marvel at plants that grow from seeds that they sow.

Ali keeps order in the chaos of a mass of children. She gives hugs and warmth to children who need it and glow with it. She is stern when she needs to be.

I know that her days are never easy, but she enters each one ready to be there for her children. In my list of teachers, she is the teacher that I want to boast of most. She is an amazing teacher and I do appreciate her.

PS One of the best things about being Ali’s mom is being able to hear the tales of her kids – like Monday when I got a text message telling me that one of her little guys came to school with his pet turtle in his pocket.

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2 thoughts on “Appreciating Teachers

  1. My daughter Paige and I had a chance to visit Ali’s classroom last week.
    Whew, and WOW!!
    Ali, it was a privilege to watch you teach. You were organized, efficient, patient, and kind. I’ve always believed that our culture doesn’t value the profession enough. And the role you play in a person’s life can be life altering. You were amazing.
    I had a little more hope for the world after spending just a couple hours in elementary school in NOLA.
    Thanks Ali. You make your parents (and me) very proud.

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