Sunday, August 16, 2009

Favorite Teachers...

Clara B. Walker. My third-grade teacher. I remember her distinctly - a robust, African-American woman with a jolly laugh who loved children and her job. She suffered with us through our struggles and celebrated our triumphs - not only with our curriculum - but in our lives. I recall her stopping by my home for a visit because she "happened to be in the neighborhood." She made it a point to visit all of her students. Becoming acquainted with our home lives and situations helped her to understand her students. She was my favorite teacher and her fingerprints have left their indelible mark in shaping the person that I am today.

I thought of Mrs. Walker recently during my visit to West Virginia where I met the fine teachers of Greenbank, Hillsboro and Marlinton at the 2009 Summer Reading Academy. I had been invited to perform a special reading of The Angry Thunderstorm and to introduce the curriculum for the book with the Reading Instruction Co. I was very honored to have been asked to present the book to such an extraordinary group.

I am not an educator. In fact, I am probably the worst candidate there could possibly be for this role. I love children and love entertaining them. However, teaching requires great patience and the ability to articulate and adapt for different learning types. Listening to the conversations during the professional development sessions, it was clear that, while I have always remembered Mrs. Walker fondly, I never appreciated her (as well as the other teachers who taught me) as much as I should have.

What struck me and took me back to my third-grade teacher was the level of passion these teachers have for their communites, their schools and their students. Their conversations ranged from shared struggles to sure-fired strategies that were working in the classroom - a collaborative group effort where nobody had the corner on the smarts. Instead, the only focus was becoming better advocates and teachers and developing strong readers. I was touched by both their experiences and their dedication to their profession - a profession that is built on a solid purpose beyond making money.

Thank you, Pocahontas County, for having me at your Summer Reading Academy. I am grateful for having had the pleasure and for the trip down memory lane. I am going to try and locate Mrs. Walker and see if she is up for a visit. I would love to personally tell her thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Good teachers are a national treasure, too bad we don't pay them as though they were!