Thank You for Teaching

This is Teacher Appreciation month – fitting, since they’re just finishing one more year of service to their students. This post was written for my brother’s business blog at appleawards.com but I’m posting it here as a thank you to my teacher friends Joy, Tera, and Norm who were mentioned in the post.  Also, thank you to Cheryl, whose students are her business and her life, a dedicated teacher who just happens to be celebrating a birthday today.  Happy Birthday Cheryl!

I have a dear friend who is a high school guidance counselor. She has had this job over the years through many changes of administration and policy. Each year she has a large number of students to meet and encourage. My first thought is that she is there to help them plan for the future – know their strengths, choose a career goal, choose their next educational endeavor. For some, this is what she does. For others she hopes first to keep them in high school long enough to graduate. Over the brief time she has them she must develop a relationship and ask for their trust. She holds her breath as she watches them navigate their own personal mine fields – homelessness, abuse and neglect, drugs, alcohol, loneliness, ridicule, promiscuity, anxiety. Often policy changes leave her with more than she can possibly do and fewer tools with which to do anything. Their situations are on her mind far past the dismissal of the last class.

I know a woman who was an elementary school teacher in a small private school. Her example was that of great caring for her students, their families and their greatest good. She dealt with the problems of modern families, showing them compassion, integrity and principles of truthfulness with love. When an administrator was needed for the school, she accepted the position and added that to her teaching role. She left only to become caretaker for her elderly mother. When that was no longer necessary she could have retired, but returned to teaching.

I know a man who teaches music in a high school for gifted students. He holds a second job in music ministry for his church but that doesn’t keep him from spending time with his students and knowing them personally. He is fun, energetic, smart and kind and for all of that his students love him. He pushes them to excellence in their band competitions, he spends hours on their special projects and teaches them to view music with high regard. He also takes their problems home at the end of the day. His church family often hears requests to pray for his students.

It is the end of the school year. May is teacher appreciation month. Who do you know who needs to be affirmed, encouraged or thanked for being who they are and doing what they do in the field of education?

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Someone Else’s Life

When you think about it, it’s a rare thing to step into someone else’s life and live there for a few days when they are not there.  It’s a little surreal in fact. This week I am still me, but I am living as a “stand in” for my brother and his wife while they are gone on a well deserved anniversary trip. This morning after sleeping in their bed, with their dog, I got up and watched the sky get light from my sister-in-law’s favorite chair in her second story bedroom.

My brother's house and the upstairs window that looks to the east - love it.
My brother’s house and the upstairs bay window that looks to the east – love it.

I walked over to my parents house for my first cup of coffee for the morning, and then back to have breakfast with my brother’s two children Claire and Evan. Today they are starting the week’s schoolwork which is scheduled in detail for them.  They study at home and I’m warned there might be questions about algebra, geometry and writing.

My nephew and the dog studying together.
My nephew and the dog studying together.

My brother and his wife have a genuine interest in their children and their children’s friends.  They invite a small group of teens from their church over to their house every other week – yesterday was the day for that and my brother explained how he hated to cancel it just because they weren’t going to be home. So he didn’t. I am glad my brother isn’t afraid to freak me out, and I’m thankful God keeps me calm and trusting when I’m challenged.

Evan and I went shopping Saturday and got healthy snacks and he cleaned up the family room in preparation.  What a responsible guy! After church on Sunday, Evan and I got into the van and I sat waiting for the rest of the kids to come out and join us,  I didn’t realize they were already seated behind us until one of them asked me what i was waiting for.  What a quiet, well-behaved group! (this really happened).

At the house they had a great time cutting up apples and making hot chocolate. They spent half an hour eating and talking with each other, half ah hour listening to me talk about my experiences with teens in Cambodia, and half ah hour playing a game while waiting for their parents to pick them up.  They were respectful to me, kind and encouraging to each other and still looked like they were having a lot of fun.  What a refreshing look at today’s youth!

Getting ready to play Dutch Blitz
Getting ready to play Dutch Blitz
the game gets crazy...
the game gets crazy…

The family dog really misses my sister-in-law.  He is a lap dog and it’s almost like having a baby in the house – one that wants to be held all the time.  He is getting used to me though, as is the family cat.  This morning they were both giving me “the stare” as I started doing things in the kitchen.  The water bowl was empty and they seemed to know how to get someone to fill it.  As i said, the dog sleeps quietly all night on the bed with me, and yesterday he took me for a walk too.  What a sweet dog!

Scruffy, taking Aunt Shirley for a walk
Scruffy, taking Aunt Shirley for a walk
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More of what we saw on our walk, the dog and I.

It’s all good so far and I fully expect the rest of the week to go smoothly.  I suppose it’s partly a case of extra good behavior to go easy on Aunt Shirley, and that’s okay, but mostly I think it’s a blessed life that I’ve stepped into and get a chance to live in, for a few days.  What an interesting opportunity!

I love birch trees.
I love birch trees.
I love autumn.
I love autumn.
I really love autumn!
I really love autumn!
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I love this silhouette of a martin house against the sky!
I love water scenes.
I love water scenes.