June 19, 2011

The Best Teacher Ever

On Friday June 17th, my mom said a final farewell to her 5th grade classroom. And while I know that a piece of her was filled with joy that she no longer has to feed pretzels to kids who forget their snacks, or go to school on days she'd rather visit her parents or in-laws in Connecticut, I know that she was also sad. And while every other teacher always celebrated the beginning of summer, my mom spent the days after the end of the school year telling her family what she'd miss about her class that year. And while other teachers joked, I swear, I never ONCE heard my mom say a truly negative thing about a child she taught. When I say she was the best teacher ever, I'm not exaggerating. Her students, fellow teachers, administrators, past students, parents of students, and her family always knew that.

Why though? What made every kid BEG to be in my mom's class? What made even the biggest 5th grader show their soft side?  I think that I know the truth. And it's a big truth that has always set her apart from everyone else. My mom was a teacher of books, of science lessons and math problems, of reading lessons and language and writing. But far before that, even with the coming of standardized state tests and stricter curriculum, my mom taught about life. Not directly and not purposely. She just did. And she did it with a calm confidence that made it difficult for kids to misbehave, and feel her disappointment when they did. It is a method build of the same principles of her parenting. It's what set her apart as a mom, too.

Here's to you mom, the BEST teacher I have ever known. And here are a few of her secrets that have rubbed off over the years.
1. Be kind to other people even if they are different.

2. Don't yell. It doesn't help anything and only makes people not want to listen to you.

3. Empathy goes a very long way.

4. Don't purposely embarrass people.

5. Make learning, and everything else, FUN.

6. Make a big deal of positive- even the little things.

Whether it was on Highland Drive or at OV, my mom just has a way about her. And everything IS more fun. even when we call her corny (and we sometimes do), we know that she is the nicest and most genuine person there is.

Her fellow teachers agreed. And on Friday we joined for a celebration in my mom's (and a few other retiring teachers') honors. We met people who meant the most to her, we toasted to her future happiness, and we listened as her colleagues said the same things I've said (but not as eloquently or at length because hey, they didn't actually grow up on Highland Drive with us, they don't know it all).

Apparently all the girls wanted to color coordinate in blue. I missed the memo that it was ROYAL and not navy apparently. Oh well. Do yo know what teachers do at retirement parties? They don't sip dirty martinis and have the CEO give a very scripted predictable speech. They make up songs and dances:
Hilarious. My sister-in law said she felt like she was at a dinner theater. It was amusing as they sang the lazy song and then went into Taio Cruz's Dynamite. Not what you would expect.

Happy Retirement, mom! Now, do you want to sign up to come to my house every week and help us do projects and clean? You could eveeeeen buy me that nice vacuum if you'd like to use that. I would be okay with that choice.

Congrats Pammy T, we are all proud of you! xo


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