Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blessing the Teacher


One of the bittersweet moments of December was bidding farewell to one of our favorite elementary school teachers. As the gifted education teacher, Mrs. Wilson poured herself into her students -- appreciating them for their unique gifts and personalities; challenging them to stretch their minds; and encouraging them to reach their full potential in the classroom and beyond. Christian was one of Mrs. Wilson's fourth-grade students, and their last class was quite emotional for teacher and students alike. Another mother and I planned a farewell celebration during their last meeting. We prepared cupcakes, cheese straws and punch for Mrs. Wilson and took a picture of her with the class to fit a signed picture frame.

It seems to me the best gift a teacher could receive at the end of her career would be to know that she made a difference in the lives of her students. I asked the children seated at their desks, "If Mrs. Wilson has helped you stretch your mind, if she has taught you new things, if she has made your life at Wetumpka Elementary School better, will you please stand up?" All the children rose. One by one we went around the classroom, letting each child speak to Mrs. Wilson before taking his or her seat. I printed a dozen quotes about teachers, and each student read one and then shared thoughts on Mrs. Wilson.

The quotes the children read follow, but the real treasure came from the hearts of the children. The first boy I approached bowed his head bashfully when I asked him to read a quote, so I didn't want to pressure him to speak. I read his quote and asked him if he had anything he wanted to share. He looked at the floor for a moment, then said quietly, "Mrs. Wilson is the nicest teacher I've ever had." It was difficult to maintain composure as one by one these 9- and 10-year-olds shared their hearts with Mrs. Wilson. One little girl paused after reading her quote, then said, "I never knew I was important until I took that test in second grade and met you." And another revealed, "I didn't think I was smart until you showed me how big my brain could be." It was truly a privilege to witness this experience between a beloved teacher and her students, and I hope it showed Mrs. Wilson that the time she has given children these many years has been a worthy investment.

Teachers are grossly underpaid for their investment of time and energy, but they make the world vastly richer for their efforts. Thank you, teachers!

Thoughts on Teachers

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." ~ Henry Brooks Adams

"A good teacher is like a candle -- it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~ Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it." ~ Margaret Fuller

"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." ~ Carl Jung

"What a teacher writes on the blackboard of life can never be erased." ~ Author Unknown

"The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind." ~ Kahlil Gibran

"Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number." ~ Author Unknown

"A truly special teacher is very wise, and sees tomorrow in every child's eyes." ~ Author Unknown

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." ~ Mark Van Doren

"Teachers who inspire realize there will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how we use them." ~ Author Unknown

"Teaching is leaving a vestige of one self in the development of another. And surely the student is a bank where you can deposit your most precious treasures." ~ Eugene P. Bertin

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." ~ William Arthur Ward

What are your ideas for blessing teachers? And if you are a teacher, I would love to know what tokens of appreciation have meant the most to you.

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