My Super Power is Teaching

One of the down-sides of this exciting time of transition for Mack and me is my inability (for months now) to sleep through the night. I wake up, thinking of the thousand things that I need to get done and the exciting things that lie ahead (along with the dozens of insensitive things I’ve unwittingly said to people, the bills I may have forgotten to pay – but ultimately, upon checking DID pay!- the coffee pot that I maybe left on – but ultimately, upon checking didn’t), etc. You get the idea.

I’m at the beach this week, packing (theoretically) up a bit more of our lives here and visiting with friends. I’ll confess that there’s more visiting than packing. Last night, I was going through the packing of the boxes – in my head – as I tried to fall asleep. But, I was getting nowhere.

So, I grabbed my computer (a big no-no according to the insomnia experts with whom I have developed a close relationship in the past months) and tuned in to a YouTube movie with Doris Day. I must have fallen asleep (which was after all, the idea of this whole thing) because when I woke up, I was watching the beginning of a 1955 movie that I had never seen called Good Morning, Miss Dove.

So much for my plan to fall asleep…I couldn’t stop watching. The movie, based on a serialized story originally published in Ladies Home Journal, written by Frances Gray Patton, is a must see for all of us teacher-types.

Miss Dove, usually referred to as “the terrible Miss Dove” is a geography teacher in Liberty Hill in the first half of the 20th century. Strict and proper, Miss Dove rules her classroom with precise habits and procedures, ultimately winning the love and respect of her students. (I particularly love the story because the person who inspired me to be a teacher was my grandmother, who also started her teaching career in the 1940s in Liberty Hill…a different Liberty Hill to be sure, but still…)

Years down the road, when Miss Dove becomes ill and is hospitalized with a possibly deadly affliction, she revisits her days with special students.

The story unfolds, showing the profound impact of a single teacher on the lives of these now-grown former students. It is a great inspiration for those of us who have spent our professional lives trying to make a difference in the lives of kids.

This morning, I had breakfast with three of my great beach pals, all of whom are former teachers. All three were wonderful, inspired teachers, and are all lovers of travel and adventure. I asked Linda (the world’s best reader and movie aficionado…and world traveler) if she knew of this obscure movie and she immediately lit up.

“Oh yes!” she said. “I always wanted to be Miss Dove.”

Me too. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Miss Dove, a geography teacher, never did visit those exotic places that she taught about. But, “she’s been places you and I have never heard of. She’s been around the world more times than we can count.”

This story reminded me of one of my favorite books, My Great Aunt Arizona, in which Arizona taught her students all about the faraway places that they would visit someday.

“Have you been there?’ the students asked.
“Only in my mind,” she answered,
“But someday, you will go.”

“She never did go to the faraway places she taught us about…But, my great-aunt Arizona travels with me and with those of us whose lives she touched.

She goes with us in our minds.”

The power of a great teacher.

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