Gifts For A Teacher
I was barely 22 years old, straight out of college and three months pregnant with my first child when I began my teaching career. With my Army husband stationed two hundred miles away, the Tulsa Public Schools didn’t ease my stress load when they assigned me to one of the roughest junior high schools in the city, where I taught Spanish and English. Vandalism was rampant. There were often knife fights in the courtyard and disruptive behavior in the classroom was the norm.
I would be physically and mentally exhausted by the time I got home. At night I would do lesson plans, sew maternity clothes since I couldn’t afford to buy them, then fall into bed. The next morning I would get up early, sit on the side of my bed for a nauseous moment then run to the bathroom and throw up. My daily routine. Then I would face my students, trying desperately to reach them and meet their needs.
About six weeks into the school term, I switched my wardrobe to maternity clothes. The girls noticed immediately. There were whispers and giggles then finally an outright question. “Ms. Jones, are you gonna have a baby?” I smiled and answered, “I certainly am.”
What difference that made I don’t know but many of the students began acting a little nicer and took it upon themselves to chastise other students who caused me problems. No one was to bother Ms. Jones because she was going to have a baby.
When the semester ended so did my teaching career for that year with only two months before the baby’s due date. On my last day of school, the big, burly teacher from across the hall detained me outside my classroom. This was unusual and I suddenly became suspicious. Had the kids done something awful? Why was he keeping me from entering my classroom? Finally, I opened the door to a chorus of “Surprise!”
My students were ecstatic that they had pulled off a surprise baby shower for me. They congregated around my desk to watch me open small gifts of baby bibs, pacifiers and such. There were cards with sweet sentiments and no one wanted me to leave. “We want to see the baby,” they pleaded. I promised I would bring the baby to see them sometime the next semester. True to my word I took my baby boy to the school one spring afternoon and let the students “ooh” and “ahh” over my precious bundle. The kids were touched that I had kept my promise.
My next teaching assignment took me to a high school on the other side of the city, so I never saw my junior high students again, though I thought of them often. No, I didn’t wonder if they could conjugate a verb in Spanish or get commas just right in English. I wondered if they remembered a very pregnant teacher who had loved them genuinely and hoped she had made a difference in their lives.
I also wondered if they had any idea what an impact they made on my own life. You see, after forty years, I still have those “baby shower” cards scribbled with seventh grade sentiments. And my baby boy? Well, he grew up and became a teacher!
Write a note of encouragement to your children’s teachers today. Thank them for being a caring, loving influence in your kids’ lives. Believe me, it will bless their day!