“There is no recipe to be a great teacher, that’s what is unique about them.” -Robert Sternberg
Rita Pierson dedicated her life to education, following in the footsteps of her parents and grandparents. In this Ted Talk, she speaks about the human connection that every child needs and how teachers can provide it. Education is so important to a person’s success and it all goes back to teachers. They can make or break a student’s experience. Teachers don’t get into this business for the money or the recognition. They do it for the love of children, if they are doing it for the right reasons.
Although I have done everything I can to support my children, they were also blessed to have some amazing teachers in their lives- people who made a connection that went beyond the classroom and curriculum. I have been honored to call some of them my friends.
One person in particular stands out. Her name is Jenny and she was my kids’ enrichment teacher. Being my baby, Andrew spent a lot of time at school with me before he was in school when I was doing volunteer work. Jenny knew that she would be working with him as soon as he began kindergarten and she started creating a bond with him early.
Andrew is a tough nut to crack. He’s a lot like me and keeps things inside. I tend to be a bit prickly when it comes to physical contact and personal space and Andrew is no different. Anyone who knows Andrew understands this, as did Jenny. Except Jenny was warm and caring and affectionate and loving. She was always giving the kids shoulders’ a squeeze or a pat and the kids loved her. Andrew did too but he kept his distance.
Now, just to be clear, Jenny taught the brightest kids in the school, enriching their education, pushing them to stretch their thinking, expanding their experiences. These kids did very cool things! And then after having known Andrew for nearly five years, Jenny came to me, more excited than I had ever seen her. I couldn’t wait to hear what amazing thing Andrew had done.
She explained that she had been working with Andrew’s group around the table and he was sitting next to her. While she was explaining a concept to them, Andrew leaned his head against her shoulder. As she spoke her eyes filled with tears and she laid her hand gently on her heart. “It was huge!” she whispered. She got it. She knew what a major milestone this was in their relationship. This was something most of Andy’s teacher’s didn’t even notice. This was MY KID, the one who stood stiffly in his grandparent’s embrace and moved away from people who came too close. And Jenny got it. I blinked back tears (unsuccessfully) and Jenny hugged me.
Jenny was an educator of the highest caliber. She taught because she loved children and helping them to be their very best. She was a precious gift to everyone who came into contact with her. Her wish was to teach for the rest of her life. She got her wish, but sadly she was taken from us way too early. If ever someone was an angel, it was Jenny. She touched so many lives while here and her legacy carries on in the very schools she taught in.
She was my friend and I miss her dearly. She once told me “Your children are blessed to have you as their mother.” We are the ones who were blessed.
She was the epitome of what a teacher should be.
More Rita Pierson quotes:
- “You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”
- “We come to work when we don’t feel like it, and we’re listening to policy that doesn’t make sense, and we teach anyway. We teach anyway because that’s what we do.”
- “How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? EVERY child deserves a champion- an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and who insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”
Have you or your children had unforgettable teachers in their lives?
Happy Monday! I hope you have an awesome week!
You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.