Sunday, 12 August 2012

The small miracle of teachers

In 2003, I took gerontology online. Other than that, I haven't been in school for decades.
I still have two children finishing university degrees, but neither of them has lived at home for years.

So why do back to school ads still make me edgy?

As a kid, those ads meant an end to the fun and adventure of summer. Routine, chores, HOMEWORK, assignments and the dreaded report cards were all a part of back to school. As a mom, it meant shopping trips for school supplies, clothes, new uniforms and books and the sound of ka-ching, ka-ching at every turn. When school started, there were pizza days and book orders and fundraisers and more ka-ching. Then all three children had their birthdays. Then it was Christmas.

No wonder back-to-school gives me hives.

All that aside, hours of life are spent in school, and teachers can make a difference. I remember two teachers  who were a huge influence in my life.

I've never had a good relationship with numbers. In grade three, I was struggling with multiplication, and my teacher was getting frustrated with my inability to understand. Her solution was to bring me in front of the class and have me do the problems on the board. As I stood there, she ridiculed me. Every brain cell froze, and humiliation caused tears to slide down my face.

I received several messages that day, and although they weren't true, I believed them for years. You are hopeless, YOU ARE STUPID, you can't do math.

As I journeyed through my years in school, this message went with me. In grade 10, a math teacher told me he would pass me if I never took math again. My marks in all other classes hovered around 60. I was an average student, and I was convinced I was stupid.

In grade eleven, I met another teacher who changed my life. He challenged us to think, to reason and to ask questions. He taught me history, and a love for that subject was born in me. He made us look for the "why" behind the "what", and as an atheist, forced me to understand my new-found faith in new ways. After the first semester, he met with my parents and said, "Someone has convinced her that she is stupid. She is not. I am going to convince her otherwise."

I had the good fortune of two years in his classes, and by the end of grade 12, my marks were in the high 70s to mid 80s. After high school, I completed two degrees at seminary, and he came to see me graduate.

And all those years later, when I went back to school to take gerontology, I won two awards for my grade point average.

So today, I am thanking God for the small miracle of teachers, who can make a difference, and for the one who gave me back the confidence in myself, so that I can write this today.

Thanks, Mr. Allman.

p.s. I still can't do math, but thankfully even cell phones have calculators now.

Was there a teacher in your past that was a small miracle in your life?

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