A Tribute to Teachers

This is the time of year we all envy teachers. Can I get an amen?! Those lucky duck people packing up their cubicles to enjoy two months of summer vacation. As the academic year comes to a grinding halt and schools finish their end of the year assemblies, examinations and celebrations, we all feel that little green monster of envy rear it’s ugly head.

Ah, if only I had been a teacher…

Two months of vacation just as the weather is getting nice….

If only…

*Cue the eye roll as they come just near skipping out of the school doors*

Yep. Every summer I utter the exact same sentiment, especially as I pack my bags for summer camp with a bus load of junior high students. Oh dear, that joy is waiting just around the corner for me – if I survive a week of VBS with one hundred elementary students on a summer induced, popsicle licking, outdoor playing, high! Yay for being a Children’s Pastor!

If I set aside that envy for a few moments though I also feel remarkably grateful for teachers. Reflecting on my own school days there are several memorable teachers that I recall with a array of emotions.

In an elementary school, just before the bridge of the St. Genevieve River, there was a Mr. Gould who I recall with a chuckle because my dear friend Tammy nearly drove him around the bend during my Grade 6 year.

There was also a Mrs. Young who introduced me to the Brown Bear in Grade 2 – the same Brown Bear who is now the star of my son’s favorite Eric Carle book.

Later, in Junior High, there was a Mr. House who dragged us all through Grade 9 social studies all the while carrying a brief case who’s lock required a plastic knife to stay secured. We were merciless in our fun making of that dear man.

High school brought a host of teachers I also cherish. A Mr. Young who cried as he sang to our graduating class a song he had written just for us. That jolly man was a follower of Christ and, while I detested World Geography, I adored his love of laughter both in and out of the classroom.

Mrs. Powell was quiet and gentle but brilliant and brave as a teacher of the sciences, and the Vice Principal of our school. She endeavored to help us to enjoy learning, even if we did not quite share her love for the periodic table and the infamous pi.

Mr. Fudge the math teacher – my memory of him is this:

“Mr. Fudge, show me again how it works. I don’t understand.”

“Ashley, you got the right answer.”

“But Mr. Fudge, I don’t know why.”

“Ashley, but it’s right.”

And so on… until the bell would ring and I assume he only managed to get through half of the material he had intended to teach in that 50 minutes. He would get so exasperated with me in that class, and to this day I loath math of every kind. Yet he was from the Bay, knew my folks quite well, and always managed to encourage and speak poisitively to me every chance he got.

Mr. Tulk in Enterprise Ed challenged me academically with a sarcastic streak I would come to experience more fully in my university days under the tutelage of one we affectionately call Doc.

And speaking of university, there were a few colorful characters there as well. A Dr. Faught who resembled one Indiana Jones, a Dr. Masson who was the only professor to give me a C in my entire education, and a linguistics professor, who’s name I can’t recall, just simply that I loved every moment of every fascinating lecture.

Over a decade removed from my high school graduation, I do not recall Mr. Fudge’s math equations (ironically) or any of Mrs. Powell’s chemistry formulas. In retrospect, the greatest lessons they imparted could not be scribbled on a whiteboard in varying degrees of legibility. Rather those lessons were inscribed in my character and are written all over my deeds and words every day.

Face challenges and overcome them.  

Yes, in fact, you can do it. Don’t give up.

I believe in you.

Your future is as big as you can dream.

You matter. Your life counts.

Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff that really counts. That’s the above and beyond kind of stuff that makes good teachers great teachers.  Those are the messages I pray some day down the road a passionate, gifted teacher will pour into my little son’s life. Those are the messages I endeavor to speak into every person of every age I have the privilege of encountering and walking with in a journey of faith. Our world needs that stuff loudly spoken and boldly lived.

My dear teacher friends, enjoy this summer vacation. Sit back often, simply relax and drink an ice cold lemonade; do all the things that late night correcting and stressing over falling behind students has prevented you from enjoying.   Refuel the tanks of your mind, your heart and your patience. Come September, they’ll flood the building and your senses, new bookbags just waiting to be broken in with heavy textbooks and pristine runners waiting to leave marks on a newly waxed school floor. But above and light years beyond that, their hearts, minds and futures will open to a new chapter and you will have the privilege of helping to inspire the stories that will be written on those blank pages. You. Yes, you.

So, take a lesson from your own notebook today….

Don’t give up.

You matter. Your life counts.

We believe in you.

You know that’s the good stuff– we got it from you.

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