I was in fourth grade. It was only my first full year in my new school and I was nervous. Would I make friends? What would my teacher be like? Would she like me? What if she didn’t? It was a very nerve-racking time for me, but that year something wonderful happened.
I met the most special people. People who would change my life forever. I think most of us have at least one of these people we keep tucked away in our hearts because of the special way they made us feel. You may have had one or maybe two.
There’s usually a teacher or teachers who we never forget. These special people do things differently than other teachers. They make us feel different than any other teacher. They seem to go above and beyond to help us be successful.
For The Love of Reading
That first year in my new school, my nine-year-old self would be forever changed when I met not one, but two teachers who would push me beyond my limit and would create in me a desire to be more than I was.
Mrs. Lindsay was my home room teacher that year. It wasn’t that she didn’t make us work harder or that she was easy on us. No. In all truth, she had high expectations for every student in her class and she did everything within her power to help us meet those expectations.
I can, even now, close my eyes and still hear her telling me and fellow classmates, “you can do better, I know you can”.
I can still hear her voice, as each afternoon, she would pull up her chair, turn down the lights and read to us from Uncle Remus. The story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby was my favorite. She gave the characters life as she read at a tempo just slow enough to mesmerize us but just fast enough to hold our attention and sitting on the edge of our seats in anticipation of what would happen next.
She made reading fun! She made reading exciting!
I never read much prior to being in her class, but it is thanks to her I wanted to read and read I did. She is the reason I am such an avid reader today. The passion she instilled in me for reading has never faltered. In fact, she is probably the reason I went to college and got a masters degree with reading as my specialty.
Reading opened up my entire world. I could go places I would never go in reality. She gave me a firm foundation on which to build my love for reading through all the hard work she put me through and through every word of encouragement she ever uttered.
Mrs. Lindsay and Mrs. Tobias were a teaching team. Mrs. Tobias was just as influential in my life as Mrs. Lindsay was but in different ways.
The Secret Weapon in Math Changed Me
Mrs. Tobias taught math. A subject I was not good at. A subject, that in my short four years of school, I had started to despise. Mrs. Tobias understood me. I wasn’t especially bad at math, but I was by no means good at it either.
I recall sitting at my desk with my little hand raised and up would walk Mrs. Tobias. She would listen to my question, repeat the question, and then challenge me to figure it out, but not alone. Somehow, I still don’t know the secret, she would know just the right questions to ask me that would lead me to the answers I hadn’t known just seconds before. I thought it was magic.
We would take weekly timed tests and I would always be so nervous about failing. As she passed those tests out, Mrs. Tobias would be talking about how good we all were at these problems and she just knew we were going to do great!! She believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself or my math abilities.
In the front of her class was an overhead projector and she would sit facing us as she wrote each problem down for all to see. There were so many times I thought I would never get it, Mrs. Tobias would have none of that. She would stick with us until we all understood. I’m telling you, she had a secret for teaching something we didn’t understand. I still, to this day, can’t fathom how she managed to take something I disliked and made it so easy and fun.
Teachers Change Us Even If They Don’t Know It
Though I left these two amazing women when I moved on to 5th grade, they stayed with me all the way through my high school years. I didn’t have to see them or talk to them because what they taught me never left me. I carried it inside of me and still do. It wasn’t always academics. These two women showed me the kind of person I wanted to be. They taught me character and life skills even without trying or having it in the curriculum. They showed me I could believe in myself even if it seemed no one else did.
Teaching isn’t always easy, on the contrary. Teaching can be the most difficult of careers, but every once in awhile these rare gemstones pop up out of nowhere and touch lives of students well beyond their schooling years. Sometimes they don’t even know how they have infected their students with character traits and passions well beyond the need of passing a grade or a test.
I know I’ll never forget the two women who taught me reading, writing, social studies, math, and science, but more importantly who taught me how to be a good person and to show others their value by simply being an example of exactly who I wanted to be.
Who was the teacher that changed you?
October 5th – celebrating World Teachers Day