Grateful for teachers that have made learning fun
Earlier this month, my daughter left elementary school for the last time. Each year I’ve been grateful to her teacher, but this year I really stopped to think about what each teacher did for her during her elementary school career.
When my daughter entered kindergarten with Mrs. Ray at William A. Diggs Elementary School, she did not understand that those little black marks on the page represented sounds and words. By October, she was reading. I’d spent five years reading to her and Mrs. Ray accomplished teaching her to understand her letter sounds in one month. She also taught her that reading was a delightful activity and that school was fun.
Then the boundaries changed, and we were sent to J.C. Parks Elementary. Mrs. Joly-O’Brien was her first grade teacher. She taught my daughter that math patterns made it easy to compute in your head. How did she do that? With math games. Yes, the children played games, practiced math and completely enjoyed themselves. Learning was (and still is) fun.
In second grade her teacher, Mrs. Goldsmith, taught her that listening and reading comprehension was important. She allowed my daughter to make mistakes and learn how to fix them. Her teacher also had a courageous conversation with me about her education and what I needed to do as her parent. I thank her to this day for having the hutzpah to address her concerns.
Third grade with Mrs. Fleshman taught my girl that if you sprinkle everything with joy and kindness, even writing can be fun. I didn’t think that writing would ever be a skill that my daughter would do without crying over, but guess what — while she might not sprinkle it with joy, she now does it.
She also needed to learn how to set and achieve goals. Fortunately, Mrs. Batchelor was exactly the right fourth grade teacher to do that for her. That girl learned how to get her work done and do it well. She and I both respected the high expectations that Mrs. Batchelor set for her and helped her achieve.
Then along came fifth grade and Mr. Mudd. He was able to wrap up her elementary career in a beautiful manner. He told me in the beginning of the year that he would give her freedom and see how she worked with it. Sure enough, she needed some lessons on how to “work” and have freedom. In the end, though, she was able to work with her classmates on higher order thinking assignments and enjoy the process. Just as importantly, he taught her how to stand up for herself and do what needed to be done, just because it needed doing.
Along with all the teachers came a guidance counselor that provided the guidance to my daughter through the years. Mrs. Cole never rolled her eyes when my daughter showed up again in her office with something that needed solving. Through all those years, Mrs. Cole did teach her how to manage many problems with kindness and civility.
It does truly take a village to raise a child, and I am so very grateful that my daughter’s village contains the wonderful teachers and counselor that have helped bring her up. Yes, they taught her to read, write and compute; but more importantly, they taught her how to be a good person, how to set goals, how to solve problems, how to look out for others, how to look out for herself and how to be a good learner. For them I am forever grateful.
Karen Dresser, White Plains