For a decade, my mom stayed home to raise my sister and me. And as I grew up, in the years after she went back to work, I knew that the job she did was important. She was a teacher...a good one, I suspected...and she came home very tired at the end of the day. But, that was largely the extent of my understanding of what her role as a teacher entailed.
It wasn't until I had the opportunity to substitute teach in her building a couple of years ago that I gained a much deeper appreciation of and respect for her work and herself as a professional. While I was there, I spent a lot of time in her classroom, watching her "in action".
While there are many (many) quality educators, I truly believe that Mrs. Miles...my mom...is in a class all of her own.
She exudes patience & love & respect & encouragement.
She is constantly focused on the children in her care.
She takes her job seriously, dedicated to the task at hand of helping each child achieve their best.
She is firm, but constantly gentle.
She defends and fosters each child's innocence, nurturing their desire to grow through play.
She lets them be little, but at the same time expects quality in their behavior.
She emphasizes discovery, exploration, and curiosity, and as a result instills a love of learning.
She and her students teach and learn together, and her classroom is a healthy, happy place.
I learned an incredible amount from observing my mom in her element...working her magic. And, I understand now why she comes home so tired. She is undoubtedly the epitome of what a teacher should be. She gives everything she has to her students; she gives 100%. And that is an achievement to be celebrated.
In a few short days, at the end of the school year, Mrs. Miles is retiring from Room 7. But, the fact is, the world is her classroom. Teaching is a significant part who she is. (There is more to her, of course, and it will be fun to see what interests she pursues in the years ahead. The chance to do that is, I suppose, part of the beauty of retirement!) As long as she lives, I have no doubt that, whenever she is around children, she will capitalize on the opportunity to help them grow. And, because my daughter and future children call her "Grandma", they'll be some of her most frequent students. I was one of her first, myself, and I'm blessed because of that.
Congratulations, Mom! You should be so proud of the love & time & energy & passion you've shown and given to so many children and colleagues over the years. You are a class act...one of a kind...and I am, always, so proud of you.