As children, we don’t see our teachers as ordinary people. They seem larger than life. When we are older, we realize that they really were larger than life. The valuable gifts teachers give stay with us.
Like the wise old man on the mountaintop, our teachers seem all knowing and their words of wisdom can be powerful enough to last a lifetime. And, like our parents, they discipline, guide, protect, nurture, influence, and serve as role models. However, while parents are Earth Angels to their own children, teachers can be Earth Angels to hundreds. From nursery school to college, there are teachers who go above and beyond the curriculum. They have the ability to see past the textbooks and chalkboards and into the eyes of each of their students. This is the quality that makes them Earth Angels.
While searching for stories, it seemed that almost everyone had something to say about a teacher who had made a profound difference in their life, We even heard a story about a very strict teacher who gave a bad grade on a math test, Years later the former student wanted to thank his teacher for the bad grade. He said, “Because she gave me the grade that I deserved, I kept away from math and pursued my more creative side.”
A story you will read in this chapter, “Miss Vandermark,” shows how deeply a child can be affected by the advice of a teacher, Because of this woman and the care she gives her students, Gerardo, the storyteller, believes that she has prevented many of his classmates from joining gangs. Even though it is years since he has been in her class, she continues to meet ounce a week with him and his friends just to talk about life.
Though many of the lessons we learn while growing up are taught in the classroom, it is most often outside the classroom that we are educated about life. Some of the stories in this chapter illustrate that you don’t have to be a teacher to teach. All of us can be enlightened by the lesson of others.
By Michael Reiss
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