“Oh, tell me more!” states a former mentor enthusiastically as she bends over to the table next to her to grab a pencil and paper.
“Really…you want to hear my story?” I say in almost a state of disbelief.
“Yes, please go on…”
I go on to tell this blessed teacher, the story of how I used a single magazine article as a springboard to deeper content knowledge, character development through a student led book drive, learning opportunities by a guest speaker based off the article, and now coming full circle, the follow up story that will soon be published featuring my own students.
My former mentor looked in my eyes with pure happiness, and reached for my hand, and quietly said, “Thank you for sharing your teaching victory with me.”
At that moment, her students pulled her away, and I was left feeling completely at peace.
This story happened recently at an academic bowl meet hosted by my school. I was a reader, and I glanced up from my papers to see this marvelous teacher sitting straight as a arrow across the room totally engrossed in the moment with her students. I gasped and thought, “There she is!” I witnessed her teaching only once during my student teaching, but it left a deep impact on me. Decades in the field hadn’t stilted her a bit. She brought enthusiasm, wit, strength, professionalism, and most importantly, a positive message everyday to students and colleagues alike.
Later that night, I reached out to my mother, a retired educator, and asked her with frustration, “Why do so many teachers act like teaching is a jail sentence?” They groan, “How many years do you have left?” “Oh, I’ve served 10, 15. 20… years. I hope I can make it ……more years.”
My mother, a wise woman, and true educator, replied, “The sad part is that after you “serve” all those years, the only thing left waiting for you is old age. All teachers must learn to enjoy the journey.”
When I think on my career, I hope to meet each day with enthusiasm, knowing that as an educator I’m not serving a term, I’m making a positive difference. I’m changing lives.
So let us all reclaim our love for education and remain dreamers, romantics, and celebrators of knowledge, life, and all that is good. Let us be thankful, and enjoy our journey each and every day.