This isn’t going to be a melancholy post. So many people are hurting right now down in Florida after the most recent school shooting, and my thoughts and prayers are with them all. I hate that I have to say “most recent.” I hate that this continues to happen. Something needs to be done. Maybe tighter gun laws. Maybe more attention and options for individuals who show signs of mental health issues. I don’t have the answers, but I can guarantee tumultuous debates on social media aren’t going to make them magically appear.
I used to want to be a teacher. Well, after a doctor and a hair stylist. But teaching was the first thing I seriously pursued after high school. I loved kids, summers off, easy enough, right?
I’m sure any teacher reading this right now is giving themselves a good face-palm. Don’t worry, I am too. 🤦♀️
I didn’t get very far into my teaching journey. In fact, I barely finished any of the prerequisites. Like the handful of other majors I pursued afterward, (I was quite the wandering academic) my heart just wasn’t in it. So I gave up. Quit. Moved onto something else I thought I would be more passionate about.
So all of my experience with teaching has been from the other side of the desk. As a student. Which is sometimes a tough place to be. When you’re not into school, or you have too much work, or you don’t feel like learning a particular unit or reading a particular book, you tend to blame the teacher. If a teacher is hard on you, or doesn’t give you the grade you wanted or expected. People talk trash about their teachers left and right. Parents blame the teachers when their son or daughter isn’t doing well. What those parents don’t realize, or think about– because who does think about this– is that those very teachers that the kids talk badly about or that they blame for their children’s grades would also, more than likely, take a bullet for their child.
Jenna Bush is co-hosting with Kathy Lee on the Today show. She said something today that really made me think. And also nod feverishly to nobody like a weirdo on the treadmill at the gym. She said that we hear all about the bad teachers, but there are a lot more good ones that we don’t hear about. And she’s right. We hear about the scandals, the inappropriate teachers, the ones who do horrible things. But how often do we stop and take a minute to praise the good ones? To recognize the work they have done and do. Every single one of us are here in one way or another, thanks to those who raised us: our parents, and our teachers. So for today’s post, I want to shed some light on the everyday angels who walk among us. Because not all heroes wear capes, and I think teaching is a much more thankless job than any of us realize.
First & foremost, I do want to highlight two educators I didn’t know. Aaron Feis & Victoria Soto. Aaron Feis died shielding students from bullets yesterday. And Victoria Soto was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The last thing she did was tell an active shooter that her class of first graders were in the gym after hiding them all in closets and cupboards in her classroom.
Mrs. M. My kindergarten teacher. I was a shy kid that missed her mom, and Mrs. M always made me feel safe in class. She was always kind and soft spoken, and she even remembered me when I saw her in my early twenties at a restaurant I was working in. I’m not sure if she’s still teaching, but if she is, I’m confident she’s still helping kids know that even in a scary world, school is a safe place.
Mr. R. My high school Native American Studies teacher. It was an elective that I took because I thought it would be a nice easy way to get an A. Well, I mean, it was, but Mr. R made that class so. much. fun. He was hilarious, made any subject interesting, and made me want to be in class, and want to learn. My love for Native American Studies later turned into my love for casinos. Haha. Just kidding. He was supportive and wrote in my yearbook that the world needed more people like me to become teachers. Even if he was just being nice, I still sometimes feel a little guilty for not becoming a teacher because of that yearbook comment.
Mr. D. My Spanish teacher my junior and senior years. Talk about a teacher who went the extra mile. He’s genuinely one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and you know the minute you meet him, he’s a teacher because he has a true passion for educating and for kids. When I needed letters of recommendations towards the end of my high school career, I knew immediately he was the one to go to. I went from a shy, awkward sophomore to a more open senior willing to take more risks because he challenged me outside of my comfort zone. And language. Hehe. He went from Spanish teacher at the high school to assistant principal at the school where my mom works. He later went on to become a principal in a school a couple towns over. My mom says one of his own kids are still in her school. I’m so thankful for that, because I plan to catch up with him before she leaves and I lose track of him. He makes such an impact on people’s lives, and I definitely plan to let him know, even if he already does.
Wherever you are, whoever you’ve become, some part of that is because of a teacher. So thank you to all of the teachers out there, especially the ones who have literally laid down their lives for their students. 💖