Monthly Archives: June 2018

Teachers: Landmarks & Legacies

Illustration by Cassie Hickinbotham

Just off a state highway, behind an anxiety-inducing parking lot, sits a classroom next to the playground. With plenty of windows to drench the tidy room with sun, it’s full of twenty-four third graders. The second-year teacher speaks to them with a calm pleasantness, in a voice that exudes kindness and warmth as well as authority. She attends PTA skate nights, communicates readily and easily with parents, and handwrites neat, thoughtful profiles of each student for parent conferences. She compiled colorful 2018 calendars as parent gifts—with photo booth-style pictures of each child, every month—for the entire class. It is not an overstatement to say she loves each student.

Two point nine miles southeast of there, in a middle school that’s tucked beside the trees of a serene neighborhood, is an eighth-grade history classroom. The man leading the students has been teaching for twenty-five years. His students don’t simply memorize important dates; they research, understand and form opinions on everything from Columbus to the Constitution and the State of the Union address. When he chaperoned a field trip to UW, he stood in the center of the bus, facing the back, engaging kids about what was going on in the United States in 1861 when the university was founded. Three days after school gets out, he’ll start his summer vacation by boarding a plane with forty-five students and other chaperones to explore DC, Philadelphia, Gettysburg and New York, his eleventh time making the trip. He’ll miss the first week of his son’s Little League All-Star tournament (a team which he also helps coach) to do so.

Two miles northeast of there is a former kindergarten teacher who now teaches PE. North of there is the arts teacher who, two years ago at another school, planned and executed two musical reviews at the civic auditorium for 700+ elementary kids, complete with singing, dancing and costumes, all while teaching students about Bach and Beethoven during the week.

Back at the school off that state highway, there’s a kindergarten teacher with a patient, melodic voice who introduces uncertain little ones to a sense of community and belonging. And the second-grade teacher who has students write about themselves and capture their memories; she’ll hold on to those for ten years and mail them back when they graduate from high school. There’s the fourth-grade teacher who loves to talk about books and is becoming the reading specialist. And the entire fifth-grade team that spends countless hours organizing fundraisers and fine-tuning details for an annual overnight camp, in addition to preparing students for middle school.

Sprinkled throughout the district, like landmarks on a map, are extraordinary teachers. From ones who are just starting their careers to those who’ve been teaching for years, from ones who stay in their beloved roles to those who take on new ones, excellence surrounds our kids.

Teaching is not just what they do—it’s who they are.

Sometimes they move on to different schools, in quaint communities or off busy boulevards. But no matter where they are, teachers generously and faithfully bestow wisdom, build confidence and believe in success as they interact with and influence our kids each day.

Often times, they intersect with our kids in just the right place, at just the right time.

That second-year teacher?

Guess who her eighth-grade history teacher was?

It’s because of the commitment and consistency of teachers that our kids are ready to set forth on their own adventures with confidence—whether it’s embarking on a final year at a cherished elementary school or a bridging to high school.

And like the familiar landmarks that we count on to guide us in our journeys, their teachers’ impact is far greater—and more permanent and profound—than any boundary line that may one day shift.