In Praise of Teachers

There is so much information and confusion going on about the coming school year.  Instead of attempting to make sense of it I am going to offer praise to the teachers, who are so often unsung heroes and forgotten faces.

When I left my last job in 2011, the school was closing. Sentimental about leaving a wonderful group of children and families, I was feeling some visceral emotions about my vocation.  I was realizing, although our days were SO full and joyful, as the children grew, would they remember me?  

I reflected on my own preschool experience so long ago, in some 1960’s red brick building off of Youngfield St. in Applewood.  Did I remember my teacher?!  I searched my brain.  I have very clear memories of the illustrated alphabet above the blackboard, a boy who ate glue (who didn’t know a boy who ate glue..?). I remember my mother dressing me and pulling my hair tight into an uncomfortable ponytail and my shoes that were also uncomfortable, but that made a fun sound on the hard linoleum floor of the school.  I remember the smells of coffee and crayons co-mingling.  I remember a principal who squeezed my cheeks…I do not remember my teacher…So I wrote the prose (copied below).  From the teacher’s side – I will remember your children when they are long gone from my charge and so appreciate the time we have had together to grow and learn.  

Prelude to Your Life

 Your smiles are constant, eyes wide
Your moods are quick, intense and fleeting,
from tears to squeals of delight.
You are so alive, in living color,
crystal clear,
Perhaps more so than you may ever be.
Your time with me,
in the length and course of your living
is small.
It will fade, murk, haze.
This is the prelude to your life.
All that growing you did in my presence
will morph into a sense of a moment.
My face will blur, the memory
reduced to a shock of hair,
a tone of voice,
a hand on your shoulder.
Our year is the sound of wooden blocks
collapsing on one another,
a particular purple hat in the dress up area,
the vibrant colors in that book with the bunny,
the smell of cookies baking.
In essence, you will forget me.
Yet, in that yellowed memory
I am a proud, invisible presence.
Your prelude is my symphony!


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