Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ode to Great Teachers

This morning, as I held my daughter's hand and we skipped to her to classroom, she said "I wonder what Ms. D is going to teach us today?"

As simple and unassuming as this statement is, I'll have to explain our long road to this point and why I just about cried when she said it.

For the first 3 years of my daughter's elementary school life, the road has been difficult and frought with struggle. Kindergarten was especially hard - she had a long bus ride with loud, somewhat rough kids. The school was huge and intimidating. At the tender age of 4 (she started early... a September birthday baby) it was a shock for her and she reacted defensively every time a new situation arose.

First and second grade were not any easier. I think she had built up a reputation within the school of being difficult and excitable. In second grade, we got daily reports of her actions in class. Long narratives of her behavior problems. We tried everything we could think of to help at home - nothing worked.

In a fortunate turn of events, we were rezoned to a new school. I used this opportunity to apply to Magnet schools. Amazingly, we were selected for enrollment to a Magnet near my office, one with hours that started earlier than most and a comprehensive after-school program. I could drive my daughter to school and pick her up every day!

We were further blessed to be assigned to one of best teachers in 3rd grade. She sent home a packet of information about her history - she'd been involved with children her entire life, started teaching at a young age, had been with the school for many years and wanted to open her own school in the future. A true teacher at heart with the endurance to withstand the challenges of the administration.

Our county, and many across our nation I'm sure, doesn't pay enough for our valuable teachers. The testing, reporting and evaluation requirements are demanding. I was at a book club with teachers ranging from 2nd to 10th grade - most of them were burned out and fed up. I read an article in the latest issue of Hallmark Magazine of the struggles one teacher had just to get supplies for her classroom. I can completely understand this and am sympathetic to the issues. But, when your own child continues to have troubles in school, it's hard to reconcile.

Her first day at the new school was outstanding - she got 70 behavior bucks to use at the "classroom mall" her teacher sets up every Friday. The second day she said "Everyone thinks I'm so nice... at my old school they thought I was the mean kid." So, we talked about new beginnings. Her self-confidence continued to soar.

So, after six weeks, for her to be wondering about the exciting things she'll be learning from her amazing and inspiring teacher, my heart rejoiced. (Okay, and I really am crying now!) Finally, the sun is rising on the path of my daughter's education and I am truly, truly grateful.

To all of the teachers out there who work tirelessly to educate our youth - thank you for being in our children's lives. Thank you for your hard work and thank you for your inspiration. You are a blessing to us all!


Donna said...

Amen....And we're so happy Maddy is doing so well.
Love, Mom

chocolate girl said...

this post made me weep. I know what you have been through, i have been here myself. my oldest son (now 14) was an 'out of the box' child who was treated poorly the first few yrs of school...i finally just took him out to homeschool him....we managed to get through 3 yrs of hs'ing, and now he is back in the school system, but adapting and keeping a wonderful attitude.

it is never an easy road when you have such a beautifully 'gifted' 'out of the box' child, (which i do feel is the main reason for their struggle) but, with love, lots of hugs and a ton of patience, they come out on the other side such strong human beings for withstanding the struggle. all it takes is ONE good teacher, willing to connect with them, that makes all the difference.

you have a beautiful daughter...she looks so peaceful and happy in these photos. such a blessing!

good teachers are a treasure to nice to know your daughter has found hers :)

My space said...

Reminds me of Mr. Fox the music teacher who was an assistant coach with me and the youth soccer team. He said that the schools like the credit for a good music program but it takes a lot of parental involvement to get the kids to practice and to the camps and to the performances and extra curricular and collatoral activity. It may be a good practice to have the view that if you are going to get a good education today it will probably be in spite of the system rather than because of it and take measures such as you have and be cautious. Love, Dad

Alexandra, Writing & Baking Enthusiast said...

What fun in the kitchen ~ you have a lovely daughter and you are creating wonderful memories for her while you are creating a lovely present. So nice to visit this morning.

Sunnispace said...

Thanks for all the great support everyone! We got our first report card of the year and I'm ecstatic! Of course, we do have some more work to do, but it's better than any of the reports from the past few years. Yea!!