Teachers and preachers, and time for the bleachers

BowieCCT1's picture

The coming of August means some big changes from the last few weeks because August always signals the return to school for kids and teachers all over Texas.
The return of school means the return of football, band, homework and school buses. That means the return to school zones and the time for everyone who drives a car on our roads to start watching again for students walking across streets and buses stopping to pick them up.
The return of school always seems like a new day to me. Sorta like a new birth. It is a new chance for students to learn, grow and succeed and a new chance for teachers to impart wisdom that can last a lifetime.
This past week a friend of mine was posting some pictures to social media from the days long ago when I was in school. He posted a picture of one of my favorite teachers of all time, Miss Wisdom, now Mrs. Walker. She was one of those pictures that 99 percent of all of her former students remember fondly. She left lasting impressions on thousands of students over her career as a teacher, because she cared. She invested into the lives of her students and did far more than just teach from a lesson plan. Just like her husband, also a teacher. Coach Walker is one of the few coaches from my past that I remember. He and Coach Mike Hogan did more than just coach a sport, they coached lives.
We have a lot of teachers around here that do the same. I hesitate to name names, because almost immediately someone will call attention to one I don’t list and want to know why. But, from my limited viewpoint, I don’t know every teacher out there.
What I do know is that local educators like Jana Duffer, Tabitha Houchens, Jonna Reed, Windy Allen, Eulin Cain, Robert Kelsoe, and many more others are those who leave an impression on the lives of students like Wisdom, Walker and Hogan did on mine. They are the kinds of teachers that twenty years from now former students still remember and talk to when they see them. Social media makes that so much easier these days, as I am friends on Facebook with my former mentors.
I have said this before in this space, but it bears repeating. We moved our family to Avery 20 plus years ago because of the caliber of the school’s teachers. Our first visit to the school showed the Ten Commandments still on the walls, and we met teachers that still prayed with their students and said the Pledge of Allegiance. There were teachers like Lisa Lennon, Marsha Deaton and Barbara Blake that over the years reinforced the fact that we had made the right decision. Mrs. Blake to this day still calls and checks on my wife and kids, despite being retired from the classroom for a long time now.
These are the jewels in our education system. They shine brightly enough to help eradicate the dark marks on our schools and more than make up for those teachers who may not be as invested in the lives of their students. You can always tell the difference between the two. Those that are invested and those that are just drawing a check. Gratefully, there are very few of those.
I have also said in the past that teaching is a calling, as much as preaching. I firmly believe that and also the fact that a teacher worth their salt relies on hearing from God just as much as a preacher in the pulpit. I personally don’t put a lot of stock in a teacher that doesn’t have some kind of relationship with God. You can call me out on that if you like, but I will argue until I am blue in the face that a teacher without some guidance from the greatest teacher of all time, will be missing something that is inherently invaluable to teaching, and that is genuine compassion. How can a teacher expect to do more than just teach the facts from a book, without having compassion for those they are trying to teach? Like Walker, Wisdom, Deaton and Duffer, compassion and care for the lives of the student beyond their GPA or assessment test scores is what makes a truly great teacher.
Dena May retired from New Boston ISD after last year. I can’t help but believe there is a large hole of compassion that has to be filled by someone else now with her being gone. It is the same with the retirement of the past generation of school teachers. Does the new generation of educators have that same compassion? Will they make the lasting impressions that will have students recalling them in 20 or 30 years?
I hope so. I pray so, and I pray that the next school year is one that is full of compassion and learning and void of some of the negativity of last year. God bless our schools, our teachers and our students and may 2017-18 be a year that is remembered for many years to come as one that changed lives and made memories for all.

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