It’s that time of year again. My Pinterest feed is overflowing with suggestions for classroom decorating tips, reading readiness exercises, cute and comfortable workday outfit ideas, low carb lunch suggestions, and easy ponytail and bun tricks for busy morning hair. That’s right – it’s time for my teacher friends to head back into the classroom!
Dear friends and to the thousands of you in the trenches: please let me be the first one to say thank you! Thank you! Thank you SO much! I do not know what I would do without you!
I lack the patience and the smarts to homeschool, so I really need you. In a big way. And there are other reasons I could never be a teacher. I like kids, but I don’t like big groups of kids. Especially kids I don’t know. They’re always needy. And sticky. And snotty. Seriously. Why are all kids snotty?
So I think it is amazing that there are people who actually want to teach children, especially children that they have no familial interest in.
Teachers matter. They don’t just teach us about grammar and addition and electricity. They teach us how life works. Good teachers give children the skills to cope in the classroom and on the playground, and also how to adapt those skills to life.
I was so incredibly fortunate to be a student at Midland ISD. I had four teachers who truly impacted my life. Mary Smith, my sixth-grade English teacher. She encouraged me to write and taught me strategies for organization and coping with writer’s block. She is funny and outspoken and I can still call her any time just to talk. The amazing Barbara Yarbrough. She just loved me for me. Ms. Yarbrough is an unrelenting champion for children and education, and there are a lot of us who still thrill to get a soft, warm hug from her. I am so proud of MISD for naming a new school after her because she is a living hero. Jane (Burgess) Moore. world’s most beautiful teacher Ever. And she has not changed. She was fierce and passionate and always put together. Flawless makeup, hair and nails. Always. She helped me get into theater and taught me how to use my loud voice. When I get tense, I can still hear her in my head, calling out vocabulary words over the San Jacinto Junior High speaker system on standardized testing days. Her voice commanding, calm and crisp. “A balloo is a bear. A balloo is a bear. A yonker is a young man. A yonker is a young man.” My high school debate coach Zane Harwell. He helped me find a path, introduced me to the confessional poets, taught me to argue well and let me enjoy crushing my opponents. I mean, he taught me how to be a gracious winner.
My littles are just getting started in school. We have been extremely fortunate to have wonderful pre-school teachers. I love Mrs. Rendy, who encouraged Bodacious to dance and did her hair for me on picture days. Mrs. Charity who helped foster and channel my daughter’s unrelenting independence and sent us the sweetest letter this summer praising her generous spirit and sweet smile. Melt. What momma doesn’t want to get a note like that? Beautiful Miss Candy encouraged Little Son’s artistic talent and was his first crush on a “grown up.” Mrs. Mary just loves him so much, and encouraged him every day to try new things. She also helped me learn to let go a little when she saw that he was ready for more responsibility and freedom. I asked her for a copy of the beautiful graduation speech she wrote when the kids finished last May. Her wisdom is powerful and you can read it here.
I know that teaching has changed a lot over the last two decades. I have friends who left teaching because they felt unsafe, others who wanted to work fewer hours because being a teacher never stops, and others who could earn more money in the private sector. For those of you who continue to be willing to love our children and help us parent, who coach and strengthen kids, teach them right from wrong, who show up every day to provide stability for some children who get none at home, I thank you! My children thank you.
Parents, please help support those teachers. Volunteer at the schools, send them thank-you notes and little gifts, praise them to their bosses. These are the people who are building a brighter and better tomorrow, one sticky hand at a time.