6/18/10

Small words can have a big impact - don't ever doubt it.


He came to me with a reputation of 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. I knew in my heart, however, that what is a problem for one person can often be a blessing for another.


The first time I sat down with my new second grader, Frank, I asked him a question about his weekend, or something mundane like that. He proceeded to tell me about the rise and fall of the Mayan civilization and the ancient Incas. To be honest, I was so fascinated that I sat with him for at least 20 minutes until I realized it was WAY past time to get the children to music and ran 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 also, at times, offer me a challenge and refuse to participate in certain writing activities. 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 and less frequently.


It was with amazing pride (and of COURSE a few tears) that I watched him at Sassy’s graduation last weekend. He received the honor of being named the class valedictorian. This, out of over 700 very capable students, was quite an accomplishment.


I ran into his parents after the ceremony and 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.



58 comments:

Gigi said...

How AWESOME!!! That's a boy who is going places - all because his 2nd grade teacher believed in him.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a tremendous compliment.

Julie Tocher said...

Wow...That made me cry. My husband was a middle school teacher and counselor for 30 years. So many kids have emailed him later in life to thank him. But your story takes the cake! Congratulations on doing a great job and making a difference!

Lori said...

By the 3rd paragraph I knew that this sweet boy was gifted. The gifted ones are sometimes a little hard to handle. They just march to a drum much different that the other 98% of the population. What a sweet story.

Brian Miller said...

nice. who da bomb...you da bomb! keep doing what you are doing...

Sara J. Henry said...

Damn, good for you.

My friend's son was labeled "difficult" at his preschool, and was so unhappy that she simply pulled him out and put him in a different class the next year - where he did just great. She knew a bad first experience would mark the rest of his time at school - and knew her son didn't need to feel every day that he was "difficult" and a failure - which he wasn't.

Cheryl said...

This is beautiful. Every last word of it touched my heart. I'm thinking of going back to school. Just for the summer...

K'man said...

de lurking to say that this is an awesome post.
I was working with a counseler early this year as she was struggling with the meaning that comes with her work.
I told her, "everything happens for a reason. we don't always get to know that reason."
You are blessed to see WHY things happen.
Keep on believing.

middleagedcrazywoman said...

Oh... I'm actually tearing up from that. Wow. That's so huge!! Wow. Congrats, that must have made you feel so good!

M

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

That's a lovely story. There are some special teachers out there and it sounds like you are one of them.

just making my way said...

Beautiful! That is such a wonderful accomplishment for you both!

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Isn't it amazing how those little things we say and do, things that seem insignificant at the time, can make all the difference in the world to someone?

That is indeed why we do what we do.

My graduation post, if you're interested.

Snappy Di said...

Sitting here with a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes over this post. Thank you for sharing with us and for being the teacher that you are. We need more like you!

Di

yogurt said...

I am thinking there are hundreds of Franks out there. Congrats on the great success, VM! Here's to you and another well deserved vodka-tini.

Trina said...

Brought tears to my eyes! Every teacher can impact his or her students, but the teachers at the early years can shape a child's entire educational experience.

WeaselMomma said...

You are amazing in what you do. I'm glad that you get to reap the benefits of your success.

Thanks for posting the badge. You don't know how much it means that our Claire has such an impact on so many people. It gives her life meaning and it makes her death not be in vain.

You touch many more people than just your students with your incredible heart, humor and kindness.

Anna See said...

Oh my goodness! I just love this, love the little professor, and love you.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

What an honor to you! Like a balm to your soul to know that you touched his life in such a positive way.

Joanie M said...

Oh!! You just made me cry.... but in a good way!! What a fabulous tribute to you for what you do. I'm so proud of you!

Joanie M said...

You know.... that made me think....

Mrs. Krebs mad me love Social Studies so much that I took TWO Social Studies classes the next year. And Sr. Peter Claver got me to take Spanish for 3 years instead of the required 2.

I liked Mrs. Melody Lovelidge because I thought her name reminded me of a stripper.

Anonymous said...

What a blessing for both of you;

For him to have had someone take a look past the label to see more and nurture it.

For you to have the opportunity to know that what you do reaches so far past the time that those kids head out your door and into another classroom.

SkylersDad said...

That was beautiful, and you are beyond awesome!

a Broad said...

weeping again :)
You are wonderful ..

itschaotic said...

annnnnd that totally made me cry. It's so great to be able to really touch the lives of people.

Mellodee said...

I think nearly every new teacher in the world (well, at least the good ones) hopes to have this kind of impact on a student, but most never do. How wonderful for you.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

That just brought tears to my eyes. I have treasured the teachers in my special needs son's life so far (he starts Kindergarten in the Fall!) I don't know what I'd do without the wonderful people who care and "get him." I can't imagine anything more validating that "turning a child's live around."

Scope said...

Did you get that on tape to play for the ingrates in your house?

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I love this story and I love how you're making a difference one kid at at time. Yay YOU!

Heidi said...

What a wonderful tribute to your awesome, challenging job.

The Only Girl said...

Well, you've brought me to tears with this one!

What a wonderful job you have.

SheilaC said...

It IS moments like these that make all the other BS well worth it!!

Thanks for reminding me that these moments DO exist, even if I never find out about them...

SheilaC

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Sometimes, when you least expect it, you are given a glimpse into what "special" really looks like through someone else's eyes. You made a difference in your little professor's eyes. He will never forget you. Now, if he wins the Nobel prize..hope he doesn't forget you then either.

That was beautiful.

Frau said...

That brought tears to my eyes and I'm not even a teacher. That is amazing but not surprising I imagine there are 100 of children lives you have touched and molded, and made a profound impact on.You are obviously an amazing teacher and person. Congrats! I hope he goes on to do amazing things.

Melissa aka Equidae said...

how wonderful!

Fragrant Liar said...

If only other professions could bring such satisfaction. They can't, so thanks for all you do for our kiddos! What a great story!

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Awwww! That brought tears to my eyes. Here's hoping Princess Nagger's 2nd grade teacher is as awesome as you are (who am I kidding? She won't be you) since she is currently a little 'Frank'. ;)

Teresa Dawn said...

What a great story :) It's great when a teacher takes the time to care about individual students. Thanks :)

Swirl Girl said...

What an amazing compliment! Teachers are the unsung heroes of our day.

Suzy said...

Is Frank single?

Captain Dumbass said...

Wow, I think my allergies just started up all of a sudden.

slow panic said...

ok. that made me cry. my kids have had several teachers that have made huge differences in their lives -- D8s 4K teacher and first grade teacher -- and J12s first grade teacher -- who convinced us to repeat first grade and changed his life forever.

thank you so so so much for all you do for your students

Eric @ TeacherVoice said...

Very inspiring! You show people how teachers can have a HUGE impact on young learners. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

kisatrtle said...

what a wonderful story

only a movie said...

Teachers rock.

The kids are easily the reason to go to work every day.
(though I know you are enjoying summer, as I am... right?)

xo

CatLadyLarew said...

The sign of a gifted teacher is the love she or he has for the quirkiest of students! You, my dear, are gifted!

Laura said...

Wow! The power of teachers!! So YOU will probably be the topic of the next tear-jerking email to circulate about the amazingteacher who changed lives. Kudos!! (and thanks!)

SSP said...

i just wanna know what he did to the first grade teacher that made her think he was so difficult, ya know?? 1st grade, you'd think she would have been all about the inquisitiveness and the apparent bright ness....anyway...good job, vodka mom - teachers like YOU are the reason more kids are successful adults!!

anymommy said...

Ack. Now I'm crying. Awesome.

Crazy Charm said...

Oh my gosh. This gave me chills! :)

Lora said...

way to bring a fellow teacher to tears there...

what a great "paycheck" :0)

Mimi Lenox said...

And THAT is why I have chills right now. You are an amazing educator.

jessica said...

this prek teacher is now tearing up. after having a difficult class- this year they discovered there's power in numbers- this reminds me why i do it. and that next year will be better. and that sometimes they aren't difficult they're just energetic, super smart or different. thank you.

my word verification is lyburi. it's where i get my books :)

Nisha said...

My son was labelled 'difficult' within his first 3 weeks of kindy and we ended up changing schools because his teacher decided that square pegs can fit in a round hole with enough criticism and force.
He's now in a fantastic school and is thriving with wonderful teachers to take the time to listen to him.

I hope his teachers have as much of a positive impact on him as you did to your wonderful student.

Roberta said...

I can so relate to this on a parent level, my son is graduating on Monday...thanks be to the baby Jesus and his many fine teachers through the years, he has not been an easy student. He has the potential but has hated school since DAY ONE...there have been fights, tears, screaming, etc. All of his teachers say what a joy he has been...sigh...if he would have just applied himself, who knows. My question to you, I want to get his principal, vice, teachers, something as a thank you....any advice??? I also work at a museum that has a school program, and when the "darling angels" leave, I give a HUGE thank you to their teachers...ain't no way in hell I would want their job..and you, in no way, get PAID enough!!!

Magpie said...

Oh, that is sweet.

JulieBouf said...

I wish I could drive my K to your school next year. Her IEP meeting has left me at odds with her future. I think she needs to find her Mrs. Jones.

Mel said...

WOW!! That is awesome. As a teacher, this is my wish that I am making an impact on my students and that one day they will remember me!

Pastor Sharon said...

Gosh I have missed this blog!!!!