April 21, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
I had this great post planned in the dark, cob-webbed recesses of my brain. Unlike every other post I write, THIS one was going to be written and rewritten and spell-checked and anything. But life happens so this is what you get instead.
A few months ago, the local newspaper had a blurb about nominating exemplary teachers for an “Excellence in Education” award. Bugaboo had just started at his amazing new school and I was very happy with how things were going. But the teacher I nominated was his previous teacher of 3 years, Joanne.
I can’t even remember what I wrote. In fact, it might have been full of grammatical errors and misspellings. But one thing is for certain, I wrote from my heart. I wrote about how that teacher took an ugly duckling and turned him into a swan. I may or may not have written about how she gave me hope for the first time. I probably mentioned that when I visited his classroom for the first time I broke down and cried, telling her about how much ground he had lost and how far we had to go. She put her arm around me and said, “It’s ok. He WILL learn in my classroom. He WILL succeed. He WILL learn to communicate. I promise, by the time he leaves this classroom he will be communicating and using the toilet!”
And he did.
He succeeded. He learned. He thrived. He communicated (with sign language and picture) and once in a while used a spoken word. He learned to use the toilet. And we had hope.
Let’s just say Joanne won an award.
I couldn’t be prouder. See, she doesn’t just teach. She LOVES. She loves the kids, she loves teaching. You can tell. Ever walk into a classroom where people are unhappy doing what they do? You can tell. Ever walk into a classroom where the kids love the teacher and the teacher loves the students and the students are thriving and the teacher is dedicated? BIG DIFFERENCE. You can tell. The kids are excited to go to school. Even with Bugaboo crying everyday for the first year or so, he was happy to go. He loved her (heck, he licked her! He only licks people he likes!). He loved her because she is kind, funny, energetic, thoughtful and dedicated. He loved her because she believes EVERY SINGLE STUDENT has potential. He loved her because she never, ever gives up on her kids, even when everyone else has.
So next week, I’ll go to an awards dinner to celebrate Joanne. She’s an awesome teacher.
And last night? Last night in the middle of poo running down the legs, quesadillas burning on the stove, dogs walking through screen doors and babies screaming, the local paper called little ole me to interview me about nominating Joanne. And I’m sure he got an ear full. But hopefully he understood what I was saying. Some teacher stand WAY out, above the rest.
Joanne is pretty much in her own galaxy.