“They’re here!” I announced.
Philip followed me to the door. By the time I opened it, they had reached the front steps.
“Hi, Philip! How was your summer?” said Mrs. P.
“Hey, Philip!” greeted Mrs. W.
Philip dashed off, ran an excited lap around the dining room table, then rejoined me a the door. He bounced with excitement on his toes and then quickly hopped on his mini trampoline for a few bounces there, too. He smiled the whole time.
Philip’s preschool teacher and her aide came to our place last Thursday for a home visit. Mrs. P likes to meet with each family to drop off paperwork, review procedures, take photos of her students and answer any questions.
Since this will be Philip’s third year in Mrs. P’s class, the visit was brief. In that short time, though, it was obvious that Philip adores his teacher and her assistant. He was sitting in Mrs. P’s lap by the visit’s end.
The next day when My Teacher by James Ransome arrived in the mail courtesy of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, it seemed serendipitous. Ransome’s ode to a dedicated, experienced educator is written in the voice of a young student. Ransome deftly hints that the school the student attends isn’t the best funded and or considered the nicest one when she tells us:
Some people wonder why my teacher teaches in my school.
She could have retired a long time ago.
She could teach across town, where the sun always shines.
Yet, her teacher stays, and the narrator goes on to describe the rich experiences she offers her students that may explain “why she keeps teaching here.” From encouraging the students to write, to creating her own classroom library to instill a love of reading, to responding to the students’ interest and needs, the teacher in Ransome’s story is the ideal person who you would want in your child’s classroom.
I was pretty proud of myself last week when Philip’s teacher was here. I didn’t cry once. Like the teacher in this book, Mrs. P is experienced. She pays out-of-pocket to supply her classroom in a way that enriches the learning of her students. She is dedicated to understanding the unique needs of each child she teaches. I know I can never thank her and Mrs. W enough for all they have done to help Philip learn and grow these past few years. For those reasons, I often get choked up when I interact with her. I thought I might last Thursday, but I didn’t.
However, I wasn’t prepared for how moving My Teacher would be. As I read the anecdotes about former students who overcame challenges to become leaders in the community, I teared up. Overwhelmed, I had to stop reading to Philip when I got to the page about the little girl who sat in the corner and dreamed of being a teacher. He laughed at the high-pitched voice brought on by emotion when I read the words from the final page:
“I teach because of every one of you. I just love teaching and being a part of your lives. I love helping you make your dreams come true.”
This will be Philip’s final year with Mrs. P, but her effect on his life will last forever. In an age where educators seem to get more blame than praise, James Ransome reminds us that of the powerful influence that the best teachers have on children and our society.
Which of your teachers helped you make your dreams come true? Go ahead and thank that teacher in the comments.