Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Priceless

Just as I was leaving work today, a co-worker suggested that I check out an op-ed written by a teacher that appeared in our local paper today. Good advice. Grab a kleenex and take a look.
And just when, on the last day of school, at the most sacred hour (3 p.m.) I could almost hear the faint whisper of words most revered by a teacher (June, July and August), I was interrupted because ... they did it again.

Those same hooligans, who have given me premature gray hair and prompted my survival tactic of never turning my back to a crowd of adolescents, do the unthinkable.

They thank me. They say the words that erase all the pain, agony and defeat of the last nine months. Within the blink of an eye, all traces of frustration that Johnny could care less about reading, writing and arithmetic slowly disappear like the fading of the classroom bell. And all because of a word of gratitude ... from a teenager. Who knew that word was even in their vocabulary?

I never know where or when, but over time this year-end "thank you" always surprises me, and what astounds me most is whom it's from. One year it was a painfully shy young lady who, in a letter, thanked me for "placing her on top of my shoulders so she could view the world in a better perspective, which changed her from the inside out."

Another student whose only wardrobe hue consisted of black and whose hair color was various shades of blue, ran off the bus as it was pulling away on the last day and gave me a great hug, whispering, "You never let me settle for what I thought I could do. Your high expectations showed me what I never thought was possible."

And the latest? Well, it was last week, as I was wearily entering school on the last day, and a student whom I've known for three years -- and who had not yet learned the art of filtering obnoxious comments, met me at the door with a mischievous grin (one that junior-high teachers know all too well) and presented me with a dozen pink roses, saying, "Thanks for caring. Thanks for being interested in my life."

What I am amazed at, humbled by, is the fact that not one of these kids thanked me for teaching them prose or Punnet squares. Not one thanked me for bringing treats or for extra credit opportunities. They were appreciative, not for things, but for an adult taking the time to make a personal connection, soul to soul.
That's what teachers do Mr. Romney and Governor Walker. There are no words for it other than priceless.

3 comments:

  1. Smartypants, thanks for sharing that op-ed. I had some great teachers and some not so great, but I learned and when I finally graduated and went to work, I had a good work ethic and still do. Sore knuckles and all. :)She must have been one special teacher. Those students were fortunate. Good luck to all of them in their future endeavors.

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  2. I have 2highschool math teachers to thank for the world's most fantastic life. Without them I would never had the wonderful choices of career and the path less traveled.

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  3. Smartypants, thank you so much for sharing that op-ed with us. No the Romney's of this world would never understand working for something with meaning other than what is in it for themselves.

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