Back to School

Our daughter is a second grade teacher. She loves to teach. And I suppose unless you love it, you shouldn’t do it. The pay is meager and the challenges are plentiful. Still, she is a joy-giver and has an indefatigable spirit and those kiddos will someday remember her as someone who mattered. Because in her classroom they matter. She makes learning fun but she reminds her students that what they do and how they do it is important. School is important and so are they.

Truth is, she’s been teaching her entire life. She taught me how to be the dad of a daughter – which can be pretty daunting for us slow-learners. She taught her brothers a thing or two along the way. And of course her husband and children are devoted followers. She teaches; we learn.

Seeing her welcome her second graders this year brings back thoughts of classrooms long ago. Remembering my apprehension each school year of who my teacher might be and worrying that I might have forgotten EVERYTHING during my summer of freedom from the classroom. What would I do if I couldn’t remember arithmetic or names of the state capitols or something? I remember I would pray to Saint Jude, patron of hopeless cases, for a day or two before school started and somehow miraculously I could write my name in cursive after my summer hiatus.

As an adult I fondly remember favorite teachers; Miss Boerding, my second grade teacher who had a beautiful smile and always smelled nice and was patient and loving. Sister Leandra, who insisted on good grammar and penmanship and told amazing stories, which may or may not have actually been true. Miss Pfaff, geography teacher who instilled in me my love of travel at an early age. Sister Thecla, my high school drafting and graphic arts teacher who was a hoot and made her classes fun while we worked our tails off trying to meet her standards of excellence. Sister Fidesta, high school algebra and geometry teacher who was a force to be reckoned with but always had a twinkle of kindness in her eye.

I’m thankful for my many teachers. When I correct someone’s grammar (in my head) while they’re speaking or become frustrated with their improper sentence structure and lack of punctuation in an email I thank Sister Leandra. As I cringe while someone says, “I’m going down to Wisconsin” (and they’re not coming from Canada) I thank Miss Pfaff. When I study architectural drawings and work on designs for my job I thank Sister Thecla. When I have to be tough but remember to also be kind I thank Sister Fidesta.

Of course, I’ve had countless teachers outside of the classroom as well. My wife is a tireless teacher who has yet to give up on me. My Mom taught me how to pray. I have a workmate who leads me through the perilous journeys of our data system whenever I am lost. I have friends who teach me by their love and devotion and our shared experiences. My grandkids teach me how to operate some of these gadgets in our house that are apparently necessary for survival today. How many remote control devices must one have?

In or out of the classroom I’m always learning. And most days it’s good to get back to school.

Peace,

Denis

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