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World's Best Teacher

Today is my mom’s last day of school.

She has been a teacher since I was in high school.  I don’t know how many years for sure, but I’m going to guess 22.

My mom went to college to be a Home Economics teacher.  Her dream job was to be an extension agent.  After graduating, she stayed home with my brother and I until Matt went to kindergarten.  When she was ready to go back to work, there were no teaching or extension jobs.

Her first teaching job didn’t come until I was in high school.

She worked at the alternative high school, with kids that for what ever reason, couldn’t learn or be at the regular high school.  The kids could be demanding, but I think she loved that job.  She taught them food service.  The kids prepared the meals for the little school, and did small catering gigs for the school district.  The school had very small class sizes and was hands on, so she felt like she was making a difference.

Later, she moved to a different school district, and another alternative school.  This one had more traditional classrooms than the last, but the classes were still small, and she was able to individualize the learning for each of her students.

Was it 10 or 15 years ago that she moved to the regular high school?

I don’t recall.  There, her class sizes were bigger, she had many of the same troubled kids, but bigger class sizes, and less time to give the kids the attention she wanted.  She taught classes she enjoyed though, like child development and  personal living.  Both classes that SHOULD be required for every U.S. citizen.

In the last few years, the State of Michigan has made all kinds of educational cuts and changes, pretty much eliminating all of the “extra” classes from a student’s schedule.  Demands of extra paperwork and standardized test prep started to suck the fun out teaching for her.

But the kids know what her heart is like.

The neediest of students- the homeless, the parentless, the mentally ill – found a compassionate ear and mentor in my mom.

The last few years have been difficult for her because she knows what the kids need academically, and her hands are tied.

My dad has always been really proud of my mom and me for being teachers.  He continued his mantra of “you are a great teacher, just hang in there it will get better,” for years.  He still says that we are great teachers, but he doesn’t anymore say, “it will get better soon.”

Today my mom retires.

I’m really, really proud of her.  I became a teacher because I saw the relationships she had with her students, and the fun she had designing curriculum for her kids.  I know she touched thousands of lives, and probably saved many of those lives through her kind words and belief that her kids could succeed.

Congratulations on your retirement mom!

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