Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Before you read this post promise me (did you promise?) that you will read all the way to the end. Don't read a little and get aggravated or mad or sad and quit. You have to read the end to see where I'm going with this.

Since I told you about my favorite teacher, Mrs. Watson, I thought it only fair that I also tell you about a few (very few!) bad ones I had, and one I didn't have but know about. Don't worry, I'm not going to call names here.

I took Latin for two years. I learned a lot in that class despite the teacher. I love words and at that age I was good at memorizing so Latin and I got along well. There are only a few Latin words that I remember well enough to translate, but more important I still recognize them as the basis of many of the words in our language and in other languages. This gives me a little edge when reading. Mrs. H was an older lady but I couldn't begin to guess how old. Bear in mind I was 15 and 16 when I took that class so age is relative. But she was no spring chicken. She was also quite unattractive. Now I'm not trying to be mean but that's the truth. I wouldn't hold that against her but what I did have a problem with was her flirting with all the boys in class and giving them A's when they didn't earn them. That's just wrong. They recognized this immediately and really buttered her up and she was either too stupid to recognize it or she didn't care.

I didn't go to college until I was 35. I had a hysterectomy 3 weeks before I started a PE class in my junior year. The teacher for this class began with a physical assessment and when I explained that pull ups weren't possible because of the surgery he said, "oh that's ok, just jump up to the bar and hang for one minute." I'm sure that you just gasped. I, however, stood there in stunned silence. When I recovered enough to answer this young whippersnapper I merely said, "are you prepared to sew me back up when my incision rips open and my intestines fall out?" Duh. On our first test the "bonus" question was Name the actors who played The Dirty Dozen. On our second test the "bonus" question was What was the last name of the barber on The Andy Griffeth Show? Need I say more?

But the very worst teacher I've heard of wasn't even one I had. Several months ago I was having some tests run at a doctor's office. The woman who was doing this particular one was about 45 or so and very, very sweet. She asked me what I do and I told her I was a retired teacher and administrator. She asked what I taught and I replied, "algebra and geometry." Tears began to roll down her face as she told me that in elementary school her teacher told her she was stupid and would never learn to do math. In front of the class. Everyone laughed. At home her brother was really good in math and because she was so afraid he would laugh at her she would hide and study math for hours and hours and hours. But when she got to class she was so afraid that this teacher would make fun of her that she simply froze and couldn't do anything. The whole time she told me this tears ran down her face. It was all she could do to hold back the sobs. At least 30 or 35 years later the pain inflicted on her by that teacher still grabbed her heart and squeezed. She still hurts so badly over that incident that the very word math brings it all back.

I know there are some horror stories out there about teachers. Some of them are even worse than these I've mentioned. But I want to say this right here and if I could shout I would - they are a very small minority. Most teachers - like 99.9% of them are there because they love kids. They love taking little ones by the hand and guiding them on the path that will lead to their success. They get up at daylight every day to stand out in the rain and cold to open the door of the cars these children ride in, they wipe runny noses and clean up barf and teach them numbers and letters. They hug them when they've just come in from running for 10 minutes on a hot day when the odor is overwhelming. They give up any hope of a quiet few minutes to eat lunch to tutor the child who stayed home the day before because Mommy slept late. They spend their own money to buy pencils and paper and colors and scissors for the child who has none. They give kids rides home when no one shows up to pick them up and they buy coats for the ones who are cold. And they teach them love and responsibility and respect and compassion. Their day doesn't end at 3:00. That's when they go to a workshop to learn how to teach a child who doesn't speak English or a child who is dyslexic. After that they have papers to grade and lesson plans to make out and tests to copy and bulletin boards to decorate. And summers - they're not off in the summer. That's when they take more classes so they can learn better techniques. That's when they read new textbooks deciding which ones are the best for our kids and when they plan new ways to present a lesson that kids had trouble with the year before. They're like the Energizer Bunny - they never stop. They never stop thinking about how to improve at what they do and how to love kids more. Because that's what teaching is all about - doing it better and loving kids more. Teachers are the unsung heroes of our lives. I've heard it said that if you can read this you need to go thank a teacher. Amen. Do it. Go thank a teacher. And if you are a teacher I love you. May God bless you each and every day and each and every moment of this school year. May He grant you rainless duty days, parents who think you hung the moon, administrators who let you alone and let you teach, family members who appreciate the person you are even when you're not at home with them, and children who are eager learners, who have no BO, and who lavish love on you every day.


Grammy Staffy said...

John and I are retired teachers, our girls are teachers and 1 son-in-law is a teacher. We all thank you for your insight and understanding.

As to the first teachers you mentioned in this post...shame on them.

Have a good day. Hugs, Lura

sister sheri said...

Next week, when school starts for my son... I'll start to find ways to lavish his teacher... One of the things I tell the teacher throughout the year... let me do anything I can to make your life easier so that you can concentrate on teaching my child!

Cyndy said...

You really touched my heart with this one! My grandmother taught college, my mother (and each of her four siblings) and my daughter and son-in-law are teachers. In fact I just finished talking to my daughter and she and her husband were at school all day today, yes, a Saturday, trying to get their rooms ready for school on Monday. The reason they were still working today was because the construction workers were still not finished with summer projects. They both teach high school and I'm always amazed with the stories they have to tell. Good along with bad. My daughter finishes her masters this December in administration. My son-in-law seems to have more of the troubled students or ones that seem to have to work harder, and he is very patient with each of them. In fact, there are always letters from his students on their refrigerator thanking him (keep in mind these are high school students, not elementary). I'm very proud of both of them. And I'm very thankful that there are many more good teachers than bad ones! Thanks for this reminder.


By the way, I think your sister would love the gift (rocks with words describing her from her family and friends). It is probably my favorite gift of all times. My daughter used ink pens to right on the rocks.

Linda said...

Everything you said is so true. One rotten teacher can inflict years of pain. I too have know a few rotten ones but luckily many more good ones.

As a former preschool teacher, even my day didn't end when the kids left. I actually was required by MA state regulations to take more hours of continuing education to teach 3 and 4 year olds than I had to do to keep my RN license! (yes I did both! )

Thanks for ending on such a positive note. It is so appreciated!

hugs, Linda

Calamity Jane's Cottage, Bonnie said...

Mrs. Marlene, your words say it all...Teachers and Parents are the key to all of our childrens well being and education. I loved this post.

Sharon said...

Amen, Marlene. And well-said! I have the utmost respect for teachers and the job they do. Thanks for the reminder right before school starts again. My oldest DGD is about to start kindergarten, and I pray she gets a good teacher and a positive experience.

Janera said...

Thanks for the reminder that our words and actions as teachers can bless or destroy even years later.

Be sure and come by to sign my guestbook, would ya?

And have a great week! I'll be meetin' up with students Monday -- can hardly wait to get started on a new year.

Salem Stitcher said...

Amen to that. I can honestly say from kindergarten through high school, I was blessed with wonderful teachers.

Marie said...

I am playing catch up here this morning and I have to say I am loving your quilt and all the lovely redwork embroidery. I had good teachers and bad teacher when I went to school. I had a lovely home room teacher in Grade 8, which was the most horrible year I had ever had in school. I was teased mercilessly that year, so much so that I actually made myself physically ill from it. She was so kind to me and visited me at home and took the time to make me feel better. Years later she ended up being my middle son's grade one teacher, which was really an amazing occurance for a second generation air force family! She is getting quite on in years now, although when I had her she was young a fresh from teacher's college. She still recognizes me when I go home for a visit and always asks after my Doug. She was a real gem.

Gene Black said...

You made me cry.

I had good teachers. I did have a couple of bad ones and a few mediocre ones. It makes me sad that most of the good teachers, the ones I would LOVE to thank, are gone. They are certainly not forgotten.
So to all teachers who love and love to instill knowledge and confidence in scared little boys: I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Veggie Mom said...

I'm a high school English teacher, and I understand where you're coming from. Some people end up teaching because they just don't know what else to do. That makes me sad, both for them and for their students, because everyone is unhappy. I, too, was told by a math teacher that I was "stupid," and "could never learn math." People like the awful teachers you describe should find another profession!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I've been ripping workbook pages all weekend for my son's teacher. Because I've taught before, I appreciate the tender thoughts of your heart here. I always give my teachers the benefit of believing them over my kids, but to be honest, I've had some truly disappointing experiences with some teachers, especially as it concerns my son. He is dyslexic, and no one seems to want to help. I've shed many a tear over this one. However, this summer, a wonderful tutor came into our lives, and while she isn't his regular teacher, he sees her once a week. If I had the $ to hire her as his private teacher, I would. She's a treasure.

I endeavor to do as much as I can for my kids' teachers, including daily prayer.

Thanks for your good thoughts, and if you think about it, pray for my 7 year old. He's having a hard time.


Teresa said...

My daughter begins her career as a teacher this year - 3rd grade. She is one of the ones that love kids and loves teaching kids and I know she will make an excellent teacher. I have been amazed at all she has had to purchase just to set up her classroom. My son-in-law teaches highschool math and he has a civil engineering degree, as well as an environmental engineering degree and could be earning triple the salary. Teachers are wonders and we should all be grateful that some still hear the call and answer. What a mission field they face everyday.

Tracy P. said...

AMEN, Marlene! I was one of those teachers for 15 years before I had my own kids. I loved it--almost everyday! Amen about what happens at 3:00. Amen about summer. Teacher, day in, day out, lifelong.

I LOVE that I can be at school volunteering and blessing my kids' teachers with support. But the BEST thing that I do for my kids and their teachers (and myself!) is go to Moms in Touch every week and pray for them. I would recommend it to any mom or grandma!

joslynps said...

Thank YOU!

Rue said...

Hi Marlene :)

My kids have had some great teachers, but some of them have been horrid. I understand that they work very hard and I really appreciate what they do for our kids, but some of them really need to find another career. There's a few teachers in Mechanicsville, VA that I wish could read this.

Thank YOU for being a teacher :)


Angie said...

I suppose there's good and bad in every profession. I never understood maths or physics or chemistry ( good thing I didn't aspire to being a doctor!) but set me on English or French and I could be way out in front. Unfortunately the grammar school I went to prided itself on producing scientists, not "artists" and so those like me, who were duffers, were ignored rather than encouraged. Shame, but that's the way it was at our school (in England).

Having said that, I don't believe today's teachers are like that but they are constrained by people who are not teachers trying to tell them how to do their job.

Personally I think that anyone brave enough to stand up n front of a classroom full of 10 year olds just has to be a special person. I couldn't do it.

Love, Angie, xx

Molly said...

Amen to all of that! My husband taught H.S. for several years after retiring from the military, so I know that every word you said here is true! When he arrived here in the US at age five or six he spoke about three different languages, but English wasn't one of them. He had a teacher who told him he was stupid when he couldn't understand her questions. I cringe every time I think of that story because there are few people I know smarter or more intelligent than him. My heart aches for the little boy he was, to be confronted by such a cruel, unfeeling witch! But it made him promise himself that no-one would ever have cause again to say such a mean thing to him.....I'm glad that lady you met didn't let it hold her back either. But the hurt never goes away.....