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Ode to a Teacher

We have been seriously blessed in the educational journeys of our children. Every teacher we’ve had, without exaggeration, has been a perfect fit for each of our three. I’ve never, ever felt their teachers were anything but partners in educating them, never felt I couldn’t go to them with concerns or questions, never felt my babies weren’t loved and accepted.  Even amongst all this greatness, there are a few who stand out, and one who stands out above all, simply by survival.

Mrs. L has been gifted with my boys for four years….Ry for 2nd and 3rd grades, and then E for 2nd and 3rd grades. Isn’t she lucky? She has been a blessing to our family in so many ways. Next week, we will say goodbye to her, knowing we don’t have any more kids coming up to be in her class.

This woman is a saint. I kid you not. Ry turned 8 his first year in his class. Many issues we had been keeping an eye on pushed into the area of “needs to be addressed.” We went through multiple evaluations and referrals to all kinds of specialists. Most of it turned out to be nothing – well, nothing physiological – but he was diagnosed with ADHD (attentive type), began to wear glasses to help the transition of looking at his desk to looking at the board and back, and had a couple of other processes put in place to help with the last issue (which I choose not to discuss at this point).  I spent most of that year feeling I was in a blender of emotions, exhausted from running him up and down the county. It was a long year. Mrs. L was with us each step of the way, encouraging, accommodating, helping. Ry is an “outside the box” kid. Turns out she loves that kind. She saw what motivated him, what was best about him, what worked with him. She loved him. He thrived in her classroom.

I will never forget, as Ry was nearing the end of second grade, getting a phone call from her as I stood in the middle of the grocery store. It was the last day the students could take Accelerated Reader tests. Ryley had a goal of reaching 100 points. He’d talked about it most of the year. He was short going into that last week, but still determined. When I answered the phone, Mrs. L was on the other end, tearfully telling me Ry had just taken the last test, and reached his goal of 100 AR points. I stood in that grocery store aisle, so proud of my boy, crying because a teacher would care enough that a) he would reach that goal and b) she would call me during recess to tell me, just as proud as I. 

When she was moved up to 3rd grade the following school year, she kept some of the students from Ry’s 2nd grade class, him included. Whew! We went confidently into third grade, knowing her expectations, her routine, her teaching personality. Ryley soared. I didn’t worry about him one single day of third grade. He was happy. It set him up to excel in fourth and fifth grade. Mrs. L gave him a love of reading, she gave him confidence, support, and love. She gave me peace, she gave me confidence as Ry’s mom, and allowed me a window into my child’s school life.

When E-man was finishing first grade, I was fairly sure where I wanted him to go for second grade. Someone knew better. He ended up in a 2/3 combo class, with Mrs. L. At first, I was upset, not because she would be his teacher, but we knew we had issues with E, and I was certain a combo was the worst thing in the world for him. Again, someone knew better. The first couple of weeks were rough, but Mrs. L was quick on the uptake, figured out what worked with him (and what didn’t), and we settled in. Again, we went through a diagnosis process while in her second grade, and again she was there every step of the way. Her patience is immeasurable. Her ability to tap into the individual motivations of each student never ceases to amaze me. Her love of those kids who do not fit in any box touches my heart (because two of mine qualify for that description).  She checks in frequently, she continually lets me know of E’s “wins”, she gives him the opportunity to stretch his boundaries in a safe environment, she knows how to talk to him, she knows how not to get into power struggles with him, she gives him work that challenges him, and she lets him know that sometimes he just has to comply because everyone does.

Mrs. L has truly been a gift, not just to my boys, but to me. I dread next week. Ethan is anxious about leaving her classroom, afraid no teacher will ever get him the way she has. It hasn’t been two years of solid bliss…he will challenge, he is prickly, and we have been, and continue on, a difficult path. But when I see her tear up telling me something amazing he’s done, I love her even more. The best part? She’s walked this path. She’s been a mentor, and such a huge encouragement for me as a mom.

Next week, we will walk out of her classroom for the last time. It’s killing me. But I  know we must move on and up. Would that she was able to move up to fourth and then fifth just so we could keep her. 😉

As I’ve said, every teacher we’ve had has been amazing. And there are some pretty special ones I love dearly. Mrs. L has been through so much with us, and after being blessed with her for four years, she has a place in the heart of our family always. There are not enough words to adequately thank her, not just for what she’s done for our boys, but for what she’s done for me as well. (And now I’m a weepy mess)

2 thoughts on “Ode to a Teacher

  1. This is so well written. I hope you give Mrs. L a copy. My son John is about to move on to high school, which means leaving behind our Mrs. S. I will miss her SO much. Endlessly patient, amazingly resourceful, constantly supportive…. She’s done so much to help John get straight As and socialize well with his classmates and students in the other two grades. Thank God for the teachers who dedicate themselves to our special needs kids.

  2. Teachers get great satisfaction from seeing a child grow under her or his care, but then getting a letter from a parent tops it all. This letter is so well-written. It is filled with love and hope for the future. Mrs. L. will treasure it. The Mrs. L’s of the world truly deserve great accolades.

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