Thursday, May 3, 2012

Public School Teacher

I have spoken often about how much we love Beti's school.  This has been our first year as parents of a public-educated school-aged child, so it's been a learning experience for us all.  

One night this week, there was an emergency PTA meeting called to discuss budget issues going on in the district and the school.  It was intense.  I sat quietly, listened, learned, formed some opinions and continued the conversation in the ensuing days on the playground.  I honestly can see all the sides and am still not sure what I think.

Yesterday afternoon after school, a kid in Beti's class didn't get picked up from school.  His mom is probably the most responsible mom in the class, an educator herself, so a few of us started to worry that something had gone horribly wrong with her.  I was the only one with her number in my cell, so I called.  

I ran up to the school office where her kid was sullenly waiting and gave him my phone.  She had just gotten the date wrong about an after-school program.  It happens to us all, even the most organized of us (whew).  I took responsibility for him until she could get there.  

We walked through the halls to find their teacher to tell her all was okay.  On our way, we found a tall, gangly, curly-haired big kid wandering around.  He stopped us and asked if Beti's teacher was still there.  I answered, "Yeah, that's where we're going now."

His eyes lit up as he said, "Wait, you mean, she still works here?!"  I sort of laughed and said, "Yeah! Like I said, we're going to her room now.  How do you know her?"  

"She was the best teacher I ever had."

He's now in eighth grade at another school.  He came to find her.  A young teenage boy came to look for his kindergarten teacher. 

We walked to her room together, and he waited in the doorway as I told the teacher what was going on with Beti's friend.  She noticed the adorable straggler with us.  He stood shyly at the threshold of her room, hands clasped behind his back, chin down, eyes all sparkly as he waited for her to remember him.  

The moment came when that drawer in her brain where she stores the hundreds of five-year-olds who have loved her through the last thirty years opened up.  It suddenly felt like a private moment, one that caused a lump to form in my throat, another one even now as I write this down.

I took my daughter and her friend into the hallway and outside, my heart full at having witnessed that moment, that magical moment when an awkward teenager came back to see one of the teachers who "loved him into being," the way Fred Rogers said happens.  

I feel so lucky that my daughter is being loved into being not just by those in her past and her family now, but by public servants in our city's school system.  It makes me want to rally for these golden teachers at every PTA meeting and district hearing.

Who loved you into being?  No matter how awkward, it's worth it to let them know.


Nora said...

Well that totally made me cry. We too love our public school, and especially my son's kindergarten teacher. She shines her light on each student and it is truly beautiful to witness. So happy to hear Beti's bucket is being filled by such a caring school environment!

Anonymous said...

My teachers are in another country. But I wanted to say I have been that mom who missed pick up and I was always grateful for moms like you.

Sha Zam- said...

oh dang you