He came to me with a reputation as being "difficult, headstrong and uncooperative." I trusted the comments from his first grade teacher, as she was not only an experienced, amazing teacher, but also a good friend.
The first time I sat down with Frank, I asked him a question about his weekend, or something mundane like that, and he proceeded to tell the about the rise and fall of the Mayan civilization. To be honest, I was so fascinated that I sat with him for at least 20 minutes until I realized it was past time to get the children to music, and rushed them down the hall.
I learned so many amazing things from him that year, and dubbed him our "little professor." I would often defer to him, saying, "Well, class, let’s see what Professor Jones thinks about this. Frank, what are YOUR thoughts?" And with a shy smile, he would offer his five thousand cents. In fact, on many occasions, he would say something so brilliant, I would point to the door and shout, "PACK YOUR BAGS AND GET OUT! You belong in FIFTH GRADE!" and then the whole class would erupt in laughter as Frank would pretend to leave.
He would, at times, offer me a challenge and refuse to participate in certain writing activities. However, I would somehow manage to help him turn it around -- I can’t remember how -- and as the year progressed, these events would happen less frequently.
It was with amazing pride (and a few tears) that I watched him at Sassy’s graduation last weekend receive the medal as the class valedictorian. This, out of over 700 very capable students, was quite an accomplishment.
I ran into his parents after the ceremony, and I was so happy to be able to congratulate them. It was then that Frank’s father looked at me with a smile, and said this:
"Mrs. Jones, I don’t think Frank would mind if I shared something with you. In his college application essay, he wrote about a very special person who made a difference in his life. It was a teacher who turned things around for him, who called him her 'little professor' and was one that he has never, ever forgotten. You do know … it was about you."
And THAT is why I do what I do. Now pass a tissue -- I am ALL OUT AGAIN.
Please share some thoughts about your favourite teacher.
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