Thank YOU! Thursday: Someone who gets involved

Thursday, December 20, 2012

As the oldest child in my family, it took only a sibling or two for me to realize the easiest way to get away with being bossy was playing school at home. I was the oldest, therefore, most obviously the wisest, thus; always the teacher for my younger sisters.  A chalkboard, some clipboards, and a few Sharpies later - my infatuation with education had an impressively solid foundation at about age 6.  I grew up and eventually became a teacher (at least for a little while), and made friends with an incredible number of awesome and dedicated teachers.  So it's not big secret that my respect and admiration for educators takes up a hefty part of my heart and head.

Dear Ms. Kotzan,
You were right there with  me in eleventh grade when I was getting ready to leave for my trip to Honduras - helping me collect donations of coloring books and pencils.  And you were right there too when I returned - and I'm pretty sure it took all of two seconds for you to recognize that I had caught the Spanish/travel bug on my short trip.  I went on to major in Spanish in college in large part because of your encouragement and support to go for something so different than most of my classmates.

Not only were you there to cultivate my passion for the language - but you also inspired the realization that even someone small can help in some way towards something big.  When I was a senior in high school - you took on the huge undertaking of organizing and planning a huge fundraiser with a group of scatterbrained teenagers.  With your direction, we put together the first ever benefit powderpuff football game to raise funds for the victims of the earthquake in Guatemala.  You were tireless in your dedication to the event - and I think of your enthusiasm whenever I am planning my own events now when they seem too big.

I graduated from Valley with the knowledge that you were proud of me - and knowing that you had planted a little seed of kindness inside of me that would never go away.

And then your job was done, because, technically, I was no longer your student.

But that's not really your way, is it?

Because when I was in college, you invited me back to your classroom when I was back in town for the holidays, to speak to your new students about my experiences.  And you asked about my life to my younger sisters and parents with genuine interest and care.  We still send each other Christmas cards and you sent me congratulations cards and gifts for the births of both of my babies.  And I know for certain that you are reading this now (hi!) because a few years ago when I posted my ridiculous renditions of the Itsy Bitsy Spider for Greyson on the blog- you sent me a beautiful card with the Spanish lyrics to the song and suggested I sing that version to him as well.

Out of the blue, after years (honestly, I don't know how many), I ran into you by pure serendipity - I was walking out with the kids and you were walking in.  2 minutes before or after - we would have missed each other.  But it was perfect timing and there we were hugging and laughing and chatting about opportunities to volunteer and lend a helping hand outside of a shopping center in a town an hour from where we both live.  When we parted ways, I smiled the whole way back to the car.  I told Greyson and Gemma, "That was my teacher," and it made me feel so grateful that my kids got to see us speaking to each other intelligently, and kindly, and with real interest about each other.

You didn't have to be anything to me but my 9-12th grade Spanish teacher.  But you have always been more than that, still now, almost 12 years later.  Thank you Ms. Kotzan for getting involved in my life and cheering me on.  I have been lucky to be one of your lifelong students.


...And, as most cases in motherhood, I have learned a lot more about admiration and respect for teachers now that I have a child with a teacher, or in our case; teachers.

Dear Ms. Melissa, Ms. Leanne, Ms. Megan, Ms. Abi, & Ms. Trina,

You are the women Greyson talks about when he comes home from day care.  He asks for his scissors and paper and crayons and lays them all out on the floor.  And then he announces that he is Ms. Melissa and gets to work cutting out tiny strips of paper and hands them out to us and gives us our instructions for the project.  He says things like, "Ms. Megan is my family."  and "I want to show Ms. Leanne my boots."  He chats idly in the car on the way home about how Ms. Abi helped him put on his coat and Ms. Trina says, "We got a problem here in your shoe."  We occasionally hear about his friends at school - but we mostly hear about all of you.  And we hear about you because our son loves you.

You spend large parts of three days a week with our baby.  You helped teach him to go on the potty.  You taught him 'Ring Around the Rosies' and he tries to get his baby sister to play and sing it with him.  Sometimes he opens his mouth and it is your words coming out - copying what you say and how you say it - trying it out in instances at home.

Our baby is growing and learning and trying new things - things that we wouldn't be able to give him -  because of you.  Thank you for hugging him when he misses us and hugging him because he had nice manners at snack time.  Thank you for giving him opportunities to be the leader and helping him practice to take turns and share.  Thank you for having patience with him when he's having a bad day.  Thank  you, thank you, thank you for taking such good care of our baby.

from the bottom of our hearts,
Greyson's Mom & Dad

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