Friday, June 24, 2016

The Teacher

We all have that teacher that we remember as a student.  The teacher that encouraged and believed in us when we didn't see it ourselves.  Regardless of how old you get,  you look back with fond memories.

But as a parent, it is rare to find a teacher that touches you so deeply that they make an impression on your family that will last generations.  We have been lucky to have a first grade teacher that helped us transition our girls to general ed.  It was the deep trust and communication that helped the girls blossom.  As they are about to complete third grade, I can still point out the skills that they learned in 1st grade.  And while, I will always be deeply appreciative, I was never moved to tears until our baby boy entered her class.

It was a leap of FAITH.

Kindergarten had been so rough for him.  A majority of his day was spent dealing with the crisis team.  His behavior issues were so great that he barely was able to learn.  About 5 months into Kindergarten, he started learning his letters and shapes.  He constantly told us that he wanted to go to the Church school with his sisters.  We explained that he couldn't go if he behaved the way he did. We took him to the girls' school events and he loved it.  He smiled, laughed and rarely acted out. Academically, he was struggling, simply because he missed so much instruction and we worried that while his behavior was going well, the frustration of being behind might be too much for him to handle.  But every day he asked at pick up to go to that school.

There is no other teacher that we would have trusted to be his first grade teacher other than Mrs. H.  I watched him walk in and try to be a gentleman.  He looked up to her with hero worship and the goal was to make her happy.  He tried so very hard from the first day to be the perfect student.  And when he couldn't control himself, he would quietly withdraw so that he wouldn't be disruptive.  We watched him mature.  

He struggled with the work at first but he caught up.  He still struggles with his handwriting and he's hard on himself when it isn't as neat as he wants it.  We've explained that some people's hands work differently and eventually, he'll get there.  And he believes that, not because we say it, but because Mrs. H told him.

I saw him get honors this year.  I watched him cry because he was so proud of himself when he was named Student of the Month.  I saw him feel.  FEEL!  He disappointed Mrs. H one day and was so remorseful that he used money from his savings account to buy her a gift that he thought she would love as an apology.

I saw him adopt some of her mannerisms and encourage his love of learning. And while a child's behavior can be a compliment to the parent, I know that we did not succeed alone.  Mrs. H is a teacher that has made her mark on this child and I cannot be more thankful.

When I heard that Mrs. H was retiring, I cried.  I cried in thanks that my son was in her last class.  I cried for the students that will not be lucky enough to grace room 24.  Our son is completely integrated and entering second grade on grade level.

On the last day of school, he turned to me and said, "Mom, I know how to spell faith. Mrs. H taught me. F-A-I-T-H."

She taught me that too.

Thank you.  I'm glad we took the integration journey together.

You will be missed.