There are times in life when experiences teach you more than you could ever learn in a book. Nine years ago, Becky taught a little girl in her class that would change the way that we see things.
Becky was a young teacher in a low income school, about thirty minutes from home. She would wake up every morning at 6:00 to be at the school when her students started arriving at 6:45am. They were 5 and 6 years old. She greeted them every single morning with a hug. She did this every day, from August through December. Every night, she would come home with a story about her “kids”. We didn’t know it, but Becky would fall in love with teaching that December.
December came and everyone was excited about their Christmas break. The week before Christmas break, all of her students brought her gifts. They could’t afford much, but most sent a card or a coffee mug… something to show their appreciation.
One morning, her student, Stephanie, came into class with a gift of her own. Stephanie didn’t have much. She lived in a home with 14 family members and friends. She wore the same clothes day after day and she never had family helping her at night. She was a hard worker and she loved being in the class. When she handed Becky her present, wrapped up in notebook paper that was crinkled, so it would stay wrapped without using tape, she was grinning from ear to ear.
She had given Becky an ornament. It wasn’t a regular ornament… this one was a snowman that Stephanie had found on the ground that week. It was broken and ruined, to the eye, but to Stephanie (& Becky), it was perfect. Stephanie had taken it home and colored the white snowman and then she put a sticker of herself (a gift for the class earlier in the year- Becky had their pictures made into stickers) onto the snowman. She wrote her name and wrote “I LOVE YOU”.
Her kindness moved us and touched our hearts. Becky and I began teaching Sunday School together to Kindergarteners soon after that and we met the most amazing kids. We see them now, as teenagers, and we can’t believe how much time has changed them (and us).
That ornament hangs on our tree each year, and we tell our kids the story of how it came to be and why it is proudly displayed.
Teachers do so much for their students that goes unnoticed, but when a student takes note, it is a special thing. For this reason, Becky and I support all teachers, especially those working in low-income communicates. It is a hard job. Teach for America finds individuals from all career backgrounds and majors and they then train and place these outstanding leaders as teachers in 52 regions around the country. They work to ensure that all kids grow up getting an excellent education, full of opportunities, regardless of their zip code.
Like all teachers, they continue to receive extensive training and ongoing coaching and development from Teach For America in addition to what they receive in the classroom. If you are asking why teach with Teach For America… it is simple: they have reached more than 5,000,000 children in need and that number is growing. Click here to learn more about teaching.