A Good Teacher Affects Children's Lives
Looking Beyond the Classroom into the Bright Eyes of a Child
Teachers Affect The Future Of Children
I remember the first year I taught school. I integrated into a school that had been racially Black. The school was for the first time in history going to mix the races together and make a change in society. That year was my first year, but it was not my first year to experience racial differences. I went to a high school that integrated the first three children into an all-white high school. Then the next year it was 60 students. Peace was not coming at a fast pace but a slow one. I felt sorry for the first three children integrated, because they were not treated as they should have been by some of the students in that high school. When I look upon my first year at teaching, then my mind was reflecting on my memories. That was the roughest year in my educational career. It was not because of the differences in students, but the discipline in the school. Our hands were tied as teachers and only the principal was given the power to dish out punishments. Every time he left the school campus all matter of discipline broke out including racial fighting. I swore that year I would give up teaching altogether. I was an art teacher, and about 80 miles from my college town and home.
The only thing I had going for me was a few students that thought that I was a wonderful teacher. They loved my class more than anything. Then, there were the ones that hated me, because I was a white teacher. I got threatened on a daily basis to bomb my car or take me out. Some wanted to be militant to be tough, and some wanted to get a passing grade and some actually loved doing art. I treated all my students with fairness and with the same devotion that I would have given any and all of them.
I had one student that wanted to make sure that I was always looked after, because he cared about me as his teacher. He wanted to know that his teacher was always safe, and nothing was going to harm me. He did not live to far from the trailer park that I lived in. His father was a police officer, and he was very proud of him. He often told me about how his dad had to chase down the bad guys, and how he risked his life. I think the bond we developed was because I could make him feel better about the fears he had about his dad. He loved his parents and was always afraid his father would get killed in a car chase with a lawbreaker. That year I remember he came by to let me know that I need to be careful and keep my doors locked at night and not go out, because there was a rapist loose that had been attacking elderly women in this neighborhood I lived in. So I got a dog and kept it near my bed. Sure enough, the crook came around my trailer that one night and attempted to come in my door. My dog barked, and I was on my guard and called the police to come and check the neighborhood. The crook was caught, and I had been protected by one of my very nice students who liked my class and me.
Like I said this was a bad year for me, and I often travelled from that community to my hometown, so that I would not be alone on the weekends for fear of the community and what might happen. That was my last year in that county, and I chose to give up teaching forever, because overall that was the worst year without discipline and children being allowed to threaten to do all kinds of things to their teachers.
I moved back to my hometown and to the place that I graduated from in college. It was not long before I got called by the local school system, because they needed an art teacher. I told them I had a horrible first year in education, and that I had not wanted to repeat that experience. The principal insured me that things would be different, and they would be proud to have me. So I went to work for this school teaching art, and I enjoyed having about 450 exploratory art students in my classes over the year. I worked in that school system for about 5 years, and then I met my husband to be. We got married and moved onward. However, there was one experience I will not forget in my life.
Remember I told you how special I was thought of by that one child, whose father was a police officer. I got a call on the phone from an Aunt of that student. She told me that the boy and his sister and his family were going to a wedding about 50 miles from home. They got in a car accident and his father died. Everyone else suffered being injured but recovered. His aunt told me it was very important for him to talk to me. I am thinking what do I say, and he came on the phone, and he said you know you were the only one that cared about me and my future and my family. He said, "I am sad and was always afraid of losing my dad, but you were there for me when I felt bad, and now I want you to know that I am going to study and make my dad proud of me. I am going to be an FBI man." I kept thinking oh my gosh, but it was important to him that I know this. I only taught this kid in my first year of teaching. I never knew that I meant so much to him as a teacher. His aunt thanked me for my caring and attention I had given to my students. I taught junior high school, and believe you me that is the hardest of all student bodies to teach.
Then, there was the year I taught high school, and I had a student come up to me, and she was pregnant, and many kids had gotten pregnant and had kids in high school. I taught all her siblings over the years. She looked me in the face and asked me to help her family. Her family was being put out of their home on Thanksgiving day. I decided that we needed to help them. We called for help from the community, and one of the big cities and churches heard our call for help, and finally they got them a place to live in. My own church committed to a place for two weeks for them to stay in a motel. I felt good about helping a family that I had spent my life teaching all their kids. I left for awhile from that community and went to another state and came back. The mother looked at me in the face one day, and she said I feel bad. I looked her back in the face and asked her why, and she told me that it was because she could not do anything for me, and they owed their lives to me and my family for helping them. I looked her back in the face again, and I said, "that it could have easily been me on the street, and I hope you will be kind enough to help me, if I ever needed it." You can say a teacher is not just a teacher but a part of their family and lives. The way you treat your students, and the commitments you make to them lasts a lifetime.
I remember one of my students, after I retired from teaching that walked up to me with his wife and baby, and he said," I want you to be the first person to hold my baby girl", and I felt so proud. He was one of my kindergarten students. I had also taught his family as well. We never know how much they love us or care, because we were there for them.
The kids that loved their teacher were multi-racial with multi-cultures, and to them they never saw a color, but someone who loved them, and wanted them to succeed in school and become somebody in their adult life. I am proud of the children who had the roughest times but made me proud of them. I shall never forget my 29 years of teaching in a classroom. I almost gave up, but I am glad I didn't. During the past two years of my life, these children sought to make me believe that I could fight cancer, and they would except no less than having me around. I am now cancer free, but my students were my inspiration, when I needed them the most. I gave to them a sense of caring, and I can definitely say it worked in my heart.