Dear Mrs. Neal,
You welcomed me in as a naïve child from small town Missouri. The kids in our class in St. Louis intimidated me and at the same time broke my heart. Their toughness, anger, and potty mouths knocked me off my equilibrium. You listened as I shared my heart for them to know Jesus. You never belittled my nine-year-old simplicity or my “I want to fix them” zeal. You took the time to join me in the hallway and listened to my heart. Thank you.
Dear Miss Howard,
You provided an approach to learning that differed from any other teacher I ever had. Though I struggled in school, you believed in me. You let me join the “smart kids” group as you taught us how to take notes from a lecture. I still remember how to measure the height of a tree – I can still see your drawing on the chalkboard. In sixth grade, you were the first teacher that motivated me to learn and taught me I could believe in myself. Thank you.
Dear Mr. Troxel,
Known to be a tough teacher, I took you as often as I could. Whether it was grammar, lit, or advanced composition, I could count on you to stretch me and prepare me for college better than any other teacher. Thanks to you, college was a breeze.
Dear Mrs. Sanders,
I will never forget my second grade year. At church you kindly let me sit beside you and kept me occupied during the sermon doing math problems – which I definitely needed to practice. It was a sad year. I can’t imagine how difficult that year was as your husband died from cancer. I missed you at school terribly during those weeks you were gone. I did not like the strict, grumpy sub who had the tough job of trying to fill your shoes. In spite of your grief, you were a great teacher – always kind and encouraging. Thank you.
Dear Mrs. Parsons,
I know you had to have been a good teacher because you had to constantly pull my attention back into the classroom. That highway out the window looked far more appealing than what you had on the chalkboard. I always wondered where that road led. Still today, my curiosity of what’s outside my window beckons me to explore. You’ll be glad to know I can focus on the task at hand far better than I could in third grade. Thank you for making school interesting.
Dear Mrs. Snider (I think that’s your name),
My mom really liked you. She said you really believed in me even when she was concerned I wasn’t doing well in school. You told her to be patient – that at some point I’d figure things out and blossom into my full potential. Though I think it took me another four years, around about ninth grade, you were right. Thank you for believing in me and for giving me room to grow at my own pace.
Dear Dr. Holmes,
You were a true professor of Christian disciplines. You challenged me, even when I didn’t like it. But it was because of your deep love for Jesus that I took every class I could with you. I rejoice that now you walk in our dear Savior’s presence. I’m sure many crowns awaited you for the innumerable lives you touched. Thank you, Jesus, for great men like him.
As you stood day after day in front of a room mostly full of uninterested, easily distracted, struggling students, had you any idea what you were really teaching? Yes the subject matter mattered, but you didn’t just fill minds with necessary knowledge and tools for learning. You touched hearts. Your set perspectives. You instilled lifelong lessons.
You demonstrate a great teacher …
⇒ listens with a caring heart
⇒ makes her students believe they are smart
⇒ stretches and challenges his students
⇒ is kind even when she wants to curl up into a ball and cry
⇒ captures the attention of those easily distracted
⇒ believes in his students, even when they don’t
⇒ emanates a love for Jesus that is catching
So, dear moms – and grand-moms,
Teachers aren’t the only ones who need to function like this. Anyone who holds the hearts of children in their hands does. If we want to make a lasting impression on the children under our care, we need to remember:
♥it’s not how well we teach; it’s how well we listen
♥it’s not where they are; it’s where they’re going
♥it’s not about being easy; it’s about growing
♥it’s not about filling minds; it’s molding hearts
♥it’s not about their grades; it’s about what lights their fires
♥it’s not what we know; it’s how we love
♥And above all, it’s about Jesus. After all, isn’t this the first and greatest “teaching”?
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
(Mark 12:30, NKJV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33, NKJV)
Dear Current Teachers,
Most of my school teachers are no longer living. I never once thought to thank them. But that doesn’t make their impact on my life any less. I know you are fresh into a new year, but I also know it won’t be long until you’ll be questioning your sanity. At that point remember, you are impacting lives in ways you can’t imagine. Keep on doing the good work.
We’ve all been students influenced in great ways by those who’ve taught us. If you have the chance, say thank you. If you’re like me and that chance is gone, here’s a good place to share. In the comments below there’s space for you to honor those who taught you lessons beyond the curriculum.
©Cheri Johnson September 2016