One of my sons took off in school like he was jet propelled. He was built for book learning and he thrived. His parent-teacher conferences always felt like a nice pat on the back; they’d say things like: “thriving”, “top of his class”, “exceptional”.
My other son, he’s just as smart. He’s a noticer. Ever since he was tiny he would find treasure everywhere we went: a ball in the rocks, a car under a Target shelf, a plastic diamond on the playground. Now he finds rusty pliers and pyrite. To him this stuff isn’t junk; it’s always been precious. The classroom was a struggle for him though. He’s a hands-on learner, and letters and words seemed to be like riddles for him.
His scores always showed him struggling, but every single time his teachers were right there with him in the struggle. “He’s a wonderful boy, so kind, and thoughtful” they’d say, “we love having him in class”. I’m grateful for each and every one of his teachers, because they never saw the numbers as his identity. Not once.
And so he didn’t either.
This year we came to a new school and I’d been told it was “below average” and that maybe we should transfer our kids. I met the staff and something in me knew it was just the place for us. They didn’t seem “below average” to me.
They jumped right in with my son. When we went in for our first meeting they didn’t just go over scores, his teacher noticed him. She paid attention to what made him tick and how he’s wired in a way that was above and beyond. I will never forget it. They put him into a reading class, and he thrived. His reading teacher was phenomenal. Every single day he’d come from school and I’d ask him what his favorite part of his day was.
“Reading!” He’d always say without skipping a beat.
The struggle was hard work, but because of them it didn’t feel that way. They never once stopped believing in him, and he started believing in himself. A week ago he picked up a chapter book and snuggled into the couch to read…on his own. “We have to go to the store.” I said.
He didn’t even look up, “Okay,” he mumbled, keeping the book in front of his face while he walked to the car.
He took the book everywhere. To the park, to the store, to bed.
He caught the magic. Those teachers, they poured into him until he caught the magic all on his own, and now he is off like he’s jet propelled. Whole new worlds and stories and adventures are opened up to him, because of them.
That “below-average” rating of our school was just based on test scores, and I can assure you the kids and staff at our school are anything but that. I’m so glad that they never judged my children by a number, and I will always do the same for them. Children and teachers are a lot more valuable and deep and dynamic than statistics.
To the Teachers:
You are fire starters, igniting hearts and minds with magic. They will never forget you, and I won’t either.
I’m just so grateful. I know your job is often thankless, but our home and our family are better because of you. Thanks for not just teaching, but for caring. It matters to us.
Thank you, thank you, for showing up for my kids.