You know how there’s that saying that says something like “Any man can be a father but it takes a special man to be a dad”? I think the same sentiment holds true for teachers. Some people teach to make a living and some people ARE teachers. It’s just what they do. They are gifted to be able to instruct children and adults in meaningful ways. In addition to the most obvious teachers (my parents), I’ve been blessed with many other great people in my life.
Thinking back to my school days, my kindergarten teacher taught me some of my first lessons. She not only taught me about The Letter People and not to cut my own hair during class (that was learned a tad bit too late, but it was learned none-the-less), but she gave me my first lesson in hospitality. Her daughter was my age and they lived a street behind us. I remember going over to play at their house and feeling so welcome all of the time. At her house was the first time I ever tried freshly squeezed orange juice, which remains one of my favorites to this day. One day they asked me to go with their family to a local amusement park and I remember feeling like I had just won the lottery. Of all the kids in her class, I felt special. Many teachers could have taught me my letters and numbers, but it took her to teach me that children remember kindnesses shown to them by grown ups.
Another standout teacher was my second grade teacher. I honestly don’t remember much about her actual classroom (other than a vague memory of learning to make cursive L’s), but I do remember her teaching us a program every Friday afternoon called C.A.P. which stood for Children Are People. We all sat in a circle on a rug and talked about gushy touchy-feely things like our emotions and stuff. I remember wanting very badly to tell her something very private during one of our sessions. I repeatedly would start to tell her and then would get scared and then stop myself. One day after school I was waiting to be released (I was a walker) and she sat me down one-on-one and told me that she could tell something was on my mind and she just wanted me to know that if I ever felt like I needed to tell her anything, she was there. I remember my eyes welling up with tears and then she hugged me. Any teacher could have taught me cursive L’s, but it took her to teach me that sometimes you have to be perceptive enough to see past what people do or don’t say and care enough to reach out to them. This was my first official lesson in compassion and empathy.
There was my senior year government teacher who taught me to respect the sacrifices that people who lived before me made in order to give me the privileges that I have today. Anyone could have taught me about the 3 branches of government, but he taught me to not be a spoiled brat with a sense of entitlement.
My New Testament History teacher my freshman year in college taught me the historical significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many teachers can teach the events of the Passion Week so to speak, but he taught me that Jesus was real and there are facts and documentation to prove it. He increased my faith exponentially.
I appreciate the teachers I’ve had in my life. I appreciate the women and men who were the parents of friends in the church who shared their homes and their time with us young people. Without them and their examples, a whole generation of Christians today may not have remained faithful. Dave and Pat, Jay and Nancy, Bruce and Brenda, Dee, and many others…thank you for the example you set for us as kids.
So many of life’s important lessons are learned through people who teach you how to be human, not facts and figures. Those are the things that make you truly successful and happy in life.
Thank you to all of you that have taught me to be a better person.