The first day of school for my grandchildren brought back many memories of my first days of school. It also brought back memories of the days I sent my children off and anxiously waited for them to come home and tell me about their first day of school.
My grandchildren came home from their first day of school and declared that they loved their teachers. My one grandson who is in first grade declared: “I have the nicest teacher ever.” That said a lot coming from the boy who wasn’t exactly in love with kindergarten.
I thought back to my school days. The years and days of school I loved the best were the years I had a teacher I liked and who inspired all of us.
I started in kindergarten with Mrs. Lewis. She made everyone feel like they were the most important child in the classroom. She always had time for each and every one of us. In fact, even though she retired and lived in another community she kept in touch all my school years and was present at my high school graduation.
My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Weir, also had an impact on my life. I must have had an impact on her life, too, good or bad I am not sure. I happened to be in a McDonald’s 40 years later and recognized Mrs. Weir. I went over to say hello thinking she would not know who I was. She looked surprised to see me, called me by my name and we reminisced. She was exactly as I remembered her, a very gracious lady.
My eighth-grade teacher was Sister Mary Donald. It was one of our best years of school because of Sister Mary Donald. We learned so many things, and we gave her many trials. I could tell you a few stories. My classmates would remember and I don’t want to tell on them. Yet, she made learning fun and treated us with respect. Twenty-five years later when a classmate and I visited with her, she told us something we didn’t know. She remembered us, called us by name right away and told us she prayed for us every single day. That was a very humbling experience knowing there was someone from our past praying for us. Of course, she could have been praying for us because of all the lively experiences she had with all of us. She probably thought our class needed prayer especially if we had continued our escapades.
I was one of those kids who if I liked a subject I got A’s and if I didn’t like a subject, well we won’t discuss the grade. Looking back it wasn’t so much the subject as the teacher who helped me achieve those grades. If teachers made a class interesting, it was easier to learn.
We often talk about the fact that if parents give their children a good foundation they will grow up to be happy, well adjusted adults. I do feel teachers contribute to that. During the school year our teachers spend more time with our children then we do.
School and society have changed a great deal since I and my children have attended school. Teachers have many more issues to deal with in a classroom. I remember no homeless children while I was going to school or while my children were in school. Teachers didn’t have to worry whether kids had food or mittens for winter. Teachers also didn’t have to put up with bad language and disrespect in the classroom or from parents. Teachers were able to teach.
I was always sad to end the summer and my time with my kids. I never looked forward to school starting because I loved spending the summer with my kids. I knew when they came home on that first day of school if I heard the words that my grandson spoke, “I love my teacher,” that it was going to be a good year.
If you are a teacher I thank you for choosing the career that you have. You make a difference in a child’s life. You may have the impact to help a child get through a bad day. You may make the difference as to whether a child graduates high school and attends college. Some adults may remember the impact that you as a teacher had on their life 50 years from now. It takes a long time and a long memory to grow a child.