After a delightful time yesterday, reconnecting and visiting and laughing with old teaching pals (who are great teachers), I was reminded of a story from my new friend-Peter the Alaskan dog musher.
Once he found out that I’m a teacher (present tense -once a teacher, always a teacher) he began to talk about his father – a lifelong educator who passed away last year (my pal Peter is in his late 50s). He said that when his dad passed, there was a 3day long string of mourners, former students and teaching buddies, each bringing the gift of a story of how his dad had changed their lives.
Peter, a hunky Alaskan guy with long Willie Nelson braids and tall fur boots, claimed to have been a bit of a challenge to parent, having had some “authority issues.” So, he and his dad had not always seen eye-to-eye. The many testimonials were a good thing.
But, the story I want to tell is about Peter and his 5th grade teacher. She had been his favorite, seeing potential where others may have seen a “problem child.” He said that he always loved and trusted her.
As the middle son of 7 kids, Peter was being strong for his mom and siblings during the wake, never crying…taking care of business.
Until, that is, his 5th grade teacher walked in. He said that when she hugged him, he at last broke down into sobs for the loss of this man who had meant so much to so many people.
He told me that, when his 5th grade teacher hugged him, almost 50 years later, he was transported back to the time, as a boy, when she was his safe haven; a person he trusted with his emotions. That’s some powerful stuff.
We teach so much more than just reading and writing.