Great teachers care

Thirty years since eighth grade, some of us met up recently to surprise our eighth grade teacher for her 60th birthday. It was an intimate affair orchestrated by Mrs. M.’s only daughter.

Upon settling down from her unexpected and delighted surprise, Mrs. M. inquired who was a doctor or teacher. Among us, careers included accounting, corporate leadership development, education, finance, healthcare, human resources, and nonprofit management. But no doctor or lawyer in the bunch.

We reminisced about our absent classmates and caught up on family lives. But most of all, we were present to honor a woman who cared so deeply for each of us. At 13, she was one of two teachers of color under whose tutelage it was our privilege to benefit from in our private, all girls, Catholic elementary school. At a critical time in our emerging womanhood, Mrs. M. cared for us, her students, with a firm and real understanding which she applied to our intellectual and personal development. Her Turks and Caicos background was an added cultural bonus in our urban, then 1980s melting pot educational, Sisters of Charity-run institution.

With affectionate concern, she taught us the basics such as the importance of math and science and how we, young women, could excel at it. She taught us the harder life lessons about remaining poised and strong in the midst of teen angst-ridden anxiety. Like many of our mothers, she was a solid role model, a working mom to a baby and also a wife. As an outstanding educator, she respected us. She nurtured us in a way that we felt like we belonged. She was approachable. Regardless of our test or report card grades, she had high expectations for each of us.

It was an honor to celebrate her milestone birthday. A heartful thank you to Mrs. M. who supported us on our educational journeys.

May we all trust the intelligence within ourselves and around us to guide us on the right path.

How have you honored the teachers in your life?

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