Dear Mrs. Wood,
One of my mentors, a man I never met, died last month. I wrote about him on my blog. It got me thinking about all of the wonderful teachers I’ve had in my lifetime. My thoughts immediately turned to you.
You were my fourth grade teacher. I had just moved to the area. I was shy. I was awkward. You made me feel like I belonged. As if I had been going to that school since kindergarten. You made me want to be a teacher. Just like you.
I remember afternoons, sitting cross-legged on the floor, listening to “A Wrinkle In Time” and “From The Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” I remember math games and warm hugs.
Oh, the hugs. I wanted to escape into your arms every single day. I imagined your home smelled of ginger snaps and fresh laundry. I pictured books stacked high on tabletops and a garden in the back with ripe tomatoes. A cat lazily sunning on the porch. Two lemonade glasses, one for you and one for me.
I imagined going home with you – instead of my empty home. Someone to be there for me when I was scared. Someone to cook me dinner, instead of having to fend for ourselves. A place where kindness was typical and harsh words were few.
When I talked, you would listen with interest. You encouraged me to dream, to hope, to reach. In y0ur classroom, the possibilities were endless. I never felt criticized or helpless.
Remembering now, as an adult, I picture your classroom and it was bright, sunny, full of light. I picture my childhood house and see darkness, stillness and fear. No wonder I raced to school each day, earlier than anyone else – always the first one in line at the door.
My teeth were a mess and I desperately needed braces. You made me feel beautiful.
My home provided shelter. You provided warmth.
My parents were always too busy to listen to me. You dropped everything each time I opened my mouth.
Discipline at home was unpredictable and harsh. You counseled us with care and concern.
I miss you, Mrs. Wood. I miss that very important year in my life. A pivotal moment in my lifetime. A time I remember, oh so well.
It was the year I decided to become a teacher.
Just like you.