Wednesday, May 4, 2011


by Elizabeth

I spent the evening baking cookies, chocolate chip both traditional and gluten-free, for Teacher Appreciation Week. I'm not sure my kids appreciate the fact that they are being deprived of all but a bit of the batch, but I hope the teachers bite down on my gratitude as they nibble their sweets.

I visit schools every week for my regular job, spending a few minutes in each classroom, then on to the next. This week schools all over town are showing their teachers love. Today's school was no exception; the teachers sported fancy hats so they could enjoy the tea prepared for them in style. It's interesting to see how different schools mark the week, as my experience with it is limited to the school my son has attended since kindergarten. I have to say, we do it well, and hats off to the women who organize it all. Me, I just bake.

Well, bake, and appreciate. I sincerely do value everything done for my kids in their school, the hours of effort put forth on their behalf, the care and concern and humor that shroud them every day when they leave my roof for the shelter of school. I count myself, and my kids, lucky to be members of our school community, and I remind them of this probably a lot more often than they care to hear. (The kids, not the teachers; they likely don't hear it enough.)

The whole week, the gala and the cookies and, yes, even the hats have me remembering my own teachers. Not that it's a stretch. I have a pretty detailed memory; I can even give you my schedule from seventh grade, A period Performing Arts through G Period Geography. Teachers, too--those would be Mrs. Johnson and Mr. Madden, respectively. But they are far from the only teachers I remember, and I have to wonder if the sharp impression left on me from my teachers grades two through high school and college too--how much did they shape the hopes and plans that bring me to blog here tonight?

I love to tell third and fourth graders that my own third and fourth grade teachers came to my wedding. I decline to tell the second graders about my own seven-year-old self, snickering at recess over my oh-so-elegant teacher that year digging in her nose with her pinkie nail. I remember my only male teacher in elementary school, a man I ran into at a gas station at age nineteen, and how he challenged me to work harder than was my inclination. Forced me, really. My sixth grade teacher became my junior high counselor, and I was just vain enough to wonder if part of the reason was to keep up with me. (It wasn't, but she did, and she made a difference.) I met my favorite teacher from high school the very first day, almost got thrown out of her class, and then was invited to stay when she read a bit of my writing, thus charting the entire course of my high school life. She didn't make it to my wedding, as her closest colleague had a retirement luncheon the same day, but she did take me and my then-fiance to a dainty tea room a week before and he managed to be gracious and not break the cups. In college, the first week I met two teachers who would shape my college years, and I still get cards from them both every December. I remember them all, and I appreciate what all of them did for me.

I always felt like teachers took just a little more interest in me, spent a little more time. Maybe they did, but I think what is more likely is that I was blessed with excellent teachers who really cared. I hope all their students felt as I did: set apart; valued for their minds; special. I believe both my kids are receiving this same gift from their teachers now, and so as I cream butter and spoon out dough, I am grateful.

Because without some of those teachers along the way, I don't know that I ever would have had the guts to finally write down the stories I always wanted to write, and say to the world, I am a writer.

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