To The Teachers Who…
Our oldest daughter is graduating grade nine this year. As parents we really do blink and the years are gone! I cannot even begin to share what this year and this season has meant to our daughter and our family in terms of the young woman she is becoming.
Our entry to our current school was not an easy one. When our oldest Calley was in grade 6 we wrestled long and hard with the decision of what school to send her to. We had two schools in mind. One which all of her friends were going to, the other a semi-private Christian School.
The Right Choice
Another Jr. High was the natural next step for her. For whatever reason a quiet voice, perhaps God was leading both my husband to question if it was the right choice for our daughter.
At the time, our oldest was one who followed the pack. She was easily influenced by her peers. My husband and I felt that if she was in the wrong class, she could easily slip away from our family values, and God’s best for her future.
Eventually we were confident that Covenant Christian was the right place. The first month of our daughter’s grade 7 and grade 3 years confirmed it for us. Our oldest settled in within her first week, our youngest took a nearly a month.
We Want To Know
We had a Child Questionnaire to help our teachers get to know their students. It questioned things like, ‘What do they love? What do they fear? What makes them uncomfortable? What helps to calm them down when they feel uncomfortable?’
I have no clue what I responded, with the exception of one question. My youngest loves having her back rubbed. A gentle touch puts her at ease.
She Did It!
Her grade 3 teacher did more than read our child’s questionnaire. She did what it said. Mrs. Knoppers rubbed her back. Every. Single. Day. For one full month. She rubbed her back until she didn’t have to rub it anymore. She bridged the gap from feeling scared to feeling safe, from unsure to sure that someone noticed her, cared for her and loved her in the class. She did it until my daughter’s new friends noticed and cared for her. Mrs. Knoppers, from the deepest place of my mama’s heart, thank you!
Talking Too Much
Our oldest daughter won the grade 9 award for the most social butterfly. She loves to talk. She loves to joke. She is a hard worker who finishes her assignments quicker than most. When she’s done, rather than sitting quietly (cause that’s boring) she talks.
Her grade 7 teacher Mr. Schindel gave her heck one day. But, when doing so he chose his words carefully. With a kind voice he said, “Now Calley. I know you’re smart. Brilliant even. I know how much you love people and people really love you. But when you’re done your work what I need is for you to shut up (insert grin) so that others can get done too. Ok?”
Mr. Schindel you didn’t just get my child in trouble, you complimented her while doing so. Thank you for finding a way to build her up rather than tearing her down when she displeased you.
More Than We Saw Possible
Our youngest daughter didn’t like school work. She wined and complained every time we had to read and do basic math facts. It was exhausting.
Mrs. Bruinsma is perhaps the most organized teacher we’ve ever had. She also holds the highest standards for her students. Admittedly, at first I was concerned that if we pushed our youngest too hard she’d hate school.
Mrs. Bruinsma, however, saw something different. She saw the greater potential in Saylee, something we sadly didn’t believe was possible. And she knew how to pull it out of her.
One day, one week, one month at a time.
Where Saylee’s grades were average, mid 60’s to low 70’s at best, she is now achieving high 70’s to mid 80’s. Our daughter whom I was sure would never like, never mind excel in school has surpassed all our expectations. All because Mrs. Bruinsma expected greater for her.
More Than a Teacher
Perhaps my favourite teacher moment of all happened at grade 9 grad. Mr. Sandford, a young dad taught this hormonal, passionate, sometimes dramatic grade of students. Throughout the year he’s been more than a teacher, he’s been their friend. Mentor. Coach. Counselor. For some, I’d even go so far as to say he has been like a father.
He shared during the closing remarks of grad, “Yes, I was your teacher, though you guys have taught me so much” … (fill in the gap with other words I don’t remember) …
And then he shared, genuinely, “I love every single one of you.”
I Love You
There is no doubt in my mind he meant it. I don’t know how often teens hear the words I LOVE YOU. They might hear ‘I love you BUT smarten up, get your crap together, clean your room’ or whatever else follows the ‘BUT’, which basically just cancels the I love you that was just said.
He loved them. Period.
And the students loved him. He didn’t demand their respect. He earned it as he loved and respected them. More than a teacher, Mr. Sandford was their mentor and their friend.
We have been beyond blessed with an outpouring of love and support from teachers everywhere. Mrs. Huber and Mrs. Weatherby, thank you for your relentless pursuit of coaching sports like basketball, cross country and track and field. For at least half of your school year you pour hours of before and after school volunteer time in.
Mrs. Koopmans, I’ve watched in admiration the way you speak life into and believe in your students. Though you did not teach my girls, I’ve seen your tears as you’ve walked through the loss of friends and family with your students. You love and lead them as only a mother can.
To Mr. Ward our volleyball coach who led 12 girls to win both grade 8 and grade 9 championships, who showed up to non-school tournaments to cheer ‘his girls’ on, thank you. Your belief in our daughters has stretched and grown them as young women, athletes, hard workers, courageous leaders and more.
A True Hero
To Mr. Simmonds, our principal, my goodness you are a Hero to these kids. You don’t lead from the platform you’ve been given. You lead by walking alongside them. As a friend and a confidant, exactly as Jesus did. You don’t see troublemakers. You see beloved children of God. Thank you.
Our Deepest Gratitude
To every teacher, EA, office administrator, student counselor, principal, and social worker who’s chosen to love and lead our children, on behalf of all parents, thank you. Our deepest gratitude goes out to you as you’ve poured out tirelessly day in and day out, filling the gaps we parents simply cannot fill.
You truly are champions! God Bless every one of you!
Love Lead Us