2018-05-16 / Opinion

In My Opinion

Teachers can change lives
BY LEANN KERR,
PRINCIPAL
Peck Elementary School

The year was 1990 and a certain second grader was spending her first morning of school crying, just as she had every morning in first grade and kindergarten.

Then, that student’s new teacher, Mrs. Trupp, noticed that girl’s pink socks with little blue bunny embellishments, complimented them, and a bond was born. The tears stopped, and that second grader began to love school.

From then on, that student lived for Mrs. Trupp’s class. For show and tell she brought her Wilson Phillips tape and Mrs. Trupp played the best song on side A and SANG ALONG!

Mrs. Trupp allowed kids to collect smiley tickets (yes, this was before emojis!). They were little die-cut, laminated smiley faces, and they were coveted by all in the class. Most students would save them and splurge on candy, popcorn, or being first in line. But this particular second grader saved for the two most expensive prizes - lunch with the teacher and teacher for the day.

The first of which was an exciting affair. Mrs. Trupp sat at the lunch table amongst all the kids, paying special attention to that special second grader who painstakingly collected those tickets and cashed them in for time at the lunch table with the teacher.

I was that second grader. I was that kid who feared school. One adult, taking interest in me, caring about what I liked, valuing me and all of the other children around me, changed my life and I didn’t even know it until years later. I’m quite certain that she doesn’t know either.

Upon cashing in my tickets to be teacher of the day, I remember sitting at her desk, later reading a book in her rocking chair, using her pointer to do the calendar, and at the time I was nervous, but I loved emulating her. She made a difference, and even 7-year-old me could see that.

I am now an educator. I spent over 10 years in my own classroom, and I prayed every day that I impacted SOMEONE the way that Mrs. Trupp did me. Sometimes it was simple like asking how someone’s track meet went. Sometimes it was more complicated such as sewing up a football jersey. Sometimes it was plain painful. There was nothing worse than reporting abuse or neglect or making sure someone had lunch or dinner because there wasn’t any food at home.

I am now the principal in the same building where Mrs. Trupp taught second grade. I loved all of my teachers and I am grateful for everything that they did for me, but whenever I walk into the room where I attended second grade, I look around and remember the uni-fix cubes, the reading corner, the carpet squares, and the smiley tickets. Saving those tickets to be teacher of the day probably made me a teacher for a lifetime.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to Mrs. Patti Trupp, my 2nd-grade teacher, and all of the other teachers in the profession who selflessly devote their time, hearts, and resources to make the world a better place for kids.

The smallest gesture, even a compliment about a pair of socks, can make the largest difference. By the way, that difference wasn’t quantified by my standardized test scores. A test could never measure the innumerable things a teacher teaches a student, the limitless ways a child grows with a teacher’s guidance, or the hundreds of moments shared in the classroom that simply make a child feel important.

There are fewer and fewer people entering this profession because we are quick to assess the performance of and penalize those who make this their life’s work.

To all the teachers, paraprofessionals, school secretaries, counselors, and anyone else who is out there making sure kids are treasured, loved, learning, and beyond:

I appreciate you.

I share your struggle.

I respect you.

I value you.

Thank you for sticking with this even when it feels like the deck is stacked against you.

And just like I say to my students, you are more than a score.

My Peck Elementary Staff, you are awesome

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