They come in August. Like a swarm of buzzing bees they arrive. By cars, vans, buses and their own two feet, from all walks of life they come. With banged up knees, runny noses, brand new outfits and gym shoes so white they're blinding, they file in. I'm talking about elementary school children, of course. Must be the season of The Teacher.
I love my son's teachers. If you've read my entries on a regular basis then you might remember Mrs. Anderson. If not you only have to click on March under the Archives 'Looking For A Leprechaun'. The truth is that every year he has been given some really great people to teach and inspire him. Mrs. Anderson was only the beginning. Seems like only yesterday my husband and I walked him through those doors for the first time. In vain we stood outside his kindergarten door, waving our arms and trying to draw his attention. He never even noticed. We were yesterday's news and he had a new object of his affection. The lady that introduced him to leprechauns, songs about colors and growing plants from a bean stuck in wet paper towels. Packed up in a keepsake box in my closet is a memory page from her class. My little boy is sitting straight up, smiling proudly into the camera. Anything to please the kind lady that's wiped a million noses and somehow never seems grossed out by it.
What could I possibly say about his first grade teacher, the lady that moved him to put pen to paper during Christmas break and write the words:
"Ms. Brown I miss you. Do you miss me?"
He was to embarrassed to give it to her, but that year I was forever picking up pieces of paper decorated with stars and the words, "Ms. Brown Rocks". She took a group of young children used to school lasting half the day and made a full day fly by for them. With every seat in her class filled and a lot to accomplish that first year she still managed to allow the kids one of the best parts of childhood - laughter.
Mrs. Tanner was an especially brave warrior on the education front. She spent almost the whole school year pregnant with her first baby. I will never forget the morning I spent in her classroom for Friendship Breakfast. Seven months pregnant, she tolerated four parents with our constant, 'Excuse me, where are the paper towels kept? Can I move this garbage can? How many pancakes should I make?', the little boy that, unbeknownst to his mom, helped himself to a $100. bill from her purse and brought it to school for a book fair, and my own son who, unbeknownst to me, brought in two gooey eyeballs left over from Halloween and stuck them in his eyes, all the better to act the clown and earn a laugh during quiet time. Add in twenty second graders besieged with a bad case of the giggles and wiggles and you have a recipe for disaster. She kept a smile on her face that morning. And not the crazy-I've-Lost-Touch-With-Reality kind of smile, but a genuine one that lit up the classroom. When I was seven months pregnant I once was brought to tears just because the store only had white corn on the cob and I had wanted yellow. I have no idea how she made it to her due date.
Finally, today is the last day of the school year and he will say goodbye to Ms. Wehrman. It's goodbye, but he will take her teachings with him for the rest of his life, I believe. She introduced yoga to her band of boisterous third graders. What must have started as a tool to transition children from one lesson to the next has sparked something in my son. He loves it and has taken to doing it at home as well. Then there was the book project. No book report. That's old school and she is fond of telling the children that old school is boring. Be creative, she urged. The boy doesn't need any help in that department. I was horrified when he brought his journal home today and I read through it. One could say the pages were filled with packs of lies. My son prefers 'life stories that I jazzed up'. Either way he likes a challenge and so he created a website dedicated to the book 'Mummy Children'. Today if anyone asks my son he will say that when he grows up he's going to create websites for a living.
No student ever makes it out of the classroom untouched by the person that stands at the head of the class. Hopefully, no teacher ever makes it out of the classroom untouched by the children that fill those small seats. From the bottom of my heart I thank teachers, principals and vice principals everywhere. They perform a job whose significance sometimes can't be seen for years. It's the end of a school year and before the next one begins I wish a summer of peace and quiet for all educators everywhere. Rest, relax and refuel. August will be here before we know it.