I’ve always been blessed with the best teachers, especially in elementary school. I look back and have a special memory I’ve shared with each and every one of my elementary school teachers, even the second-grade teacher I had for the last two months of that school year when we moved.
Recently, my family and I cleaned out our garage because of #SocialDistancingFun. I found a box of memorabilia I had packed away from when we had to move from our new home back to our old neighborhood in the third grade. When we moved about three years ago to our current home, we didn’t take a look into any boxes that we had shoved in our old garage.
I know, I know. “Moving’s the perfect time to look through boxes of old junk!” you think to yourself. But you don’t live with my dad, and he was so terrible during our last move. He just shoved all of the boxes into the garage and focused on moving everything else in.
Fast forward three years later, we FINALLY came around to cleaning this garage out. This brings us back to my box of memorabilia from our last move.
In it, I found some old dolls and hairclips I used to play with when I was younger. I also found a notebook I kept in my third grade year that I shared with my teacher, Mrs. Robertson.
I was (and still am) a very anxious person. I had so many irrational fears as a child that it hindered my ability to even go outside for recess. Second, third, and fourth grades were very tough years that if it weren’t for my teachers and parents, I don’t think I would’ve been able to grow out of it. Obviously, I still am an anxious person that sometimes reverts back to those irrational fears but that’s another story.
Anyways, back to the notebook. I remember sharing this notebook with her, but I don’t remember if it was out of a suggestion from the school social worker/counselor I was seeing or if it was her way of being able to connect with me individually. Most of my class knew I was that weird, anxious kid who cried because the wind was blowing too hard, and there were times that I monopolized our teacher’s attention because of this.
Reading through the notes as an adult now, it was almost like I had an out-of-body experience. There I was, 11 PM, sitting on my bed, sobbing my eyes out reading some of the notes I would share with her and the patient words she would write back. I was so damn needy in many of my notes, but she was never anything but patient and kind.
There would be times where I had to eat lunch or stay in from recess with her because I was too nervous to go outside, and I’d express concern about the weather. While she would indulge me at times because sometimes those fears were understandable, many of her notes would encourage me to try and think about how nice of a day it was and how sad I would feel if I didn’t share that day with my friends. She never once made me feel bad about how I felt nor did she ever condescend me.
Looking back, those years where I was most fearful and anxious, none of my teachers EVER refused to believe me. Yes, my fears were irrational but they always made an effort to go above and beyond to help me. While this notebook was simply Mrs. Robertson’s way of letting me know she was there, it represents just how much some teachers really go the distance to show they care.
When I semi ran away from home in the sixth grade, it was my past teachers who stepped in and helped me. A past teacher of mine, Mrs. Lothamer, let me come into her room to help in the mornings since I had to be dropped off in the office before the bell for the remainder of the school year. These simple acts of kindness from these teachers are just blips in their long careers, but as a student, a teacher who cares is one remembered forever.
Educators are the backbone of this country, believe it or not. I can only imagine just how much parents might be regretting the way they’ve treated some educators in the past now that they’ve been tasked with the responsibility of their child’s learning (but they’ve always kind of held that sole responsibility, right?).
Take a moment and think back to all those times a teacher let you stay in to help because you were too nervous to venture outside, think about all the times a teacher went out of their way to show they cared for you, think about the countless times they might have noticed you struggling and showed you how to succeed.
This post isn’t just to praise my elementary school teachers, I was very blessed to have educators who genuinely cared once I went to junior high and high school. Shout out to my Spanish teachers in both junior high and high school who will always remain my favorite secondary education teachers.
Thank a teacher today, this week, and always.