Today wraps up teacher appreciation week and I thought it would be appropriate to have my kids write their teacher a letter telling them how much they appreciate her…I mean me. Just kidding. I didn’t do that.
Seriously though, I have been thinking about the impact that teachers can have on a child’s life. And I say can because there are many teachers that will not impact you. You will move on and probably have nothing bad, nor great, to say about the year you spent in their class. A few weeks (or months? I don’t know) I watched a 60 minutes episode with Oprah Winfrey on treating childhood trauma. Maybe find it on youtube or the 60 minutes app or something and watch it. It just stuck me how important positive role models are in a child’s life. The are actually healing and can make the difference between success and living a life hindered by circumstances. I am so grateful that during the traumatic years of my childhood, which pale in comparison to many kids, I had so much support in my family (Aunt Michelle, you were the best aunt in those years!) and at school. Being that it is teacher appreciation week, I wanted to just say thank you to my teachers. All these years later, I want you to know how grateful I am. Really truly grateful that in fact I have tears in my eyes right now!
I went to a Catholic elementary school that felt very much like a tight community. I have such positive memories of my years there. I can’t say what it was exactly, but it was good. My mom brought my dog in for Show and Tell and tried to bring my cat too, but she escaped out of the car and we lost her for awhile. My dad donated some paint stir sticks and my whole class make pom-poms out of newspaper and paint stir sticks. Also, I got my first trophy in first grade in the lip sync contest, just killing it to the song, Paint a Rainbow from Rainbow Brite. I had a great outfit too. In fact, I still have it. Mrs. Severin, you were my favorite teacher! Thirty years ago, I was in your class, and I still remember so much about it. My school picture is of me with a funky toothless smile and I love that about my very own 2nd grader right now. I remember losing my pencil and I couldn’t find it anywhere! And then the boy sitting behind me pointed out that it was in my hair! I remember listening and loving the song, “This is the story about Sammy” and guess what? I was so excited to find that record at a thrift store a few months ago and my middle and little also loves it! I got to ride in your car on a field trip, which was AMAZING!!! to my 8 year old self. And it was in your classroom that I showed up to school after my first earthquake in Oct. 1987 and you were so nice and comforting as we talked and wrote about it. Thank you for your positive influence in my life!
During my early elementary years, Mrs. Layton was my PE teacher and I thought her daughter, Laurie, was SOOOOO pretty! She was 2 years older than me, and you can just imagine my excitement in the beginning of 4th grade when we were going to be assigned (or pick I guess?) our friendship partners. Being “Tamara’s little sister”, one recess a bunch of 6th graders ran up to me and said, “You get to pick your friendship partner today, pick me! Pick me!” Wow! I never felt so popular! One of those girls was Laurie Layton (has a nice ring doesn’t it?) and I picked her because, like I said, I thought she was so pretty and nice and I couldn’t wait to get to know her more. Mrs. Layton, you had the best job I feel like. You got to be the nice teacher who didn’t have to be strict (at least in my memory). You let me play with your elbow because I thought it felt cool (I’m so embarrassed, sorry for being a weird kid!) You took us trick-or-treating and let me swim in your pool. You picked me up for school on picture day so that I didn’t have to walk with my dress clothes on. You looked out for me and for that I am truly grateful.
In 6th grade I transitioned to middle school and expected public schools to have sub-par education. Well, I was wrong! My first year, I had Mr. Tully for my 3 core classes: Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies. He was an amazing teacher who really had a love for teaching and made my 11 year old self have faith in the public school system as funny as that may sound. Also memorable that year, a student in my class gave me and Mr. Tully the chicken pox! So, he was super nice to me about not having my work turned in because he had no clue what I was supposed to do either!
And then there’s high school *sigh* Mrs. Franzen what would I have done without you? As you can tell, I have a problem with casting judgement (as I did about public schools prior to ever experiencing them). Well, Tamara had Mrs. Franzen and one day I remember pointing her out to me and saying, “That’s my teacher, she’s a feminist.” HA! That is so funny to me now. I was NOT happy when I found out I had her for Sophomore English, because I was pretty sure that I wasn’t a feminist, and I didn’t like the sound of it. Mrs. Franzen, with your long curly locks and cute printing on the whiteboard, your 20-something year old self taught me so much that year. So much, so that I took classes from you the next two years! You gave me confidence and showed me that I had more potential. You somehow fostered a love for public speaking, which doesn’t seem that weird to me now, but to my 15/16 year old self, it sure did. I won first place at a speech competition at USC and thought the school was so beautiful and you told me that I could go there. You made me believe that I had possibilities. It was you who marched me into the college and career center at Los Al, and told the lady that she needed to help me find out about all the scholarships available to me and help me fill out my college applications. I was going to all kinds of luncheons for scholarships my Senior year thanks to you! And more importantly, I was going to college! Thank you for believing in me and being the confidante I needed during those years. And P.S. I love that you met Mrs. Layton at a soccer game one time because you are both so dear to me ❤
Even though I choose to homeschool, I do not ever discredit the work teachers do in the classroom. I’ve been there, and I’m married to a teacher. It can be incredibly difficult and totally amazing and sometimes both on the same day. So thank you and know that your work in my life did not go unnoticed. Love to you all!