September always, always, always means school to me. Back to school was just after Labor Day when my brother and I grew up.
Back to School meant new crayons, sharpened pencils, lined paper, or whatever classroom requirement for that year or that grade. It also meant seeing old friends and making new ones.
My maternal grandmother, Ruth Love (Wootton) Thomas, was a grade school teacher…her classroom specialties were the First and the Third Grades.
She was gifted in helping children learn to love learning.
She taught in Texas and in Cedaredge, and in Delta, Colorado, before she retired. I have heard many stories of her times in the classrooms and the little children she helped ‘open their minds’ to the wonders of knowledge.
In thinking of these things—first day of school and my grandmother, it brought to mind she would always say: “Teachers are not like any other profession. Teachers never know if they make a difference in the lives of their students…students and teachers are just a given.”
Remembering this I also chanced upon another profound thing that happened to her late, late in her life. She must have been in her very late 80’s or early 90’s; Granddad had passed on for several years.
Since Gram lived at home alone, next to a busy highway she was very careful about opening her door to just anyone. Late one summer afternoon she heard a knock on her front door—going to the big window and peeking around the curtain she saw a little old man standing there twisting his dress hat around and around in his hands.
He knocked again, still acting very nervous, which also made Gram a little ‘on edge’. The third knock he hollard: “Miz Ruth? Miz Ruth, are you in there?”
It was hearing the Miz Ruth she realized that this old man must be someone who knew her from her past. Opening the door she found out this man was a former Third Grade student for long-long ago.
“Miz Ruth”, he explained “I have thought and thought and thought about you all my life. I have wanted to find you [someday] to tell you ‘Thank You’ for my year in the Third grade in your classroom.”
Gram said they spent the rest of the afternoon having a ‘lovely conversation’.
After he left she called me to tell about this wonderful experience her voice clogged with tears. “Hearing that you made a difference in one your students lives is the ultimate gift”‘ she stated to me.
(Bubbles in the air)
I suppose like most of us we can remember those teachers that created nightmares for us in school, I’m sure we can remember the ones who also lifted us up and sprung us into that next level of learning. If you happened to see that teacher that propelled you forward…remember to let that person know…both of your days will be much brighter.
Sending you gratitude and thanks for being my friend,