If You Can Read This, Thank A Teacher

I was a fortunate child. I grew up in a home in which my parents both valued education and had the resources to ensure that my brother and I could succeed academically. There were always books in my house. We had two full sets of encyclopedias, both for children and adults, both my parents had leftover textbooks from their university days, and everyone had a library card.

I started reading at a young age, (4 years old) mostly due to my parent’s bedtime ritual of reading me a story before I went to sleep. In daycare, I could both read out loud and comprehend what the words meant. But the people who nurtured my lifelong love of reading the most were my teachers. I’ve already written about my 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Kerr, who purchased a hard-to-get book for me at the end of the school year. But there was also Mr. Clyke, who taught me math by using hockey stats.

Going back to university two years ago has given me a greater appreciation for the teachers who helped me along the way. The junior high math teacher who helped me learn that, as a visual learner, geometry would be my strong-suit. The high school English teacher that made classics seem more interesting by making them relevant to the present; the University professor who made 4 hours of painting fun, and the African Canadian Studies teacher who taught me more about my heritage in a semester than I had learned in the four years prior.

Teachers do not often get the respect they deserve. They are often overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. Today, I’d like to let all the teachers in my life know that their work is not in vain. You have the daunting task of shaping young minds, and if you make a lasting impact on one child, you have done your job.

A teacher’s influence doesn’t stop at one child. That child grows up and goes on to affect others. And the people that they inspire will pass what they’ve learned along. That is worth celebrating.

World Teacher Day

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Sharing Saturday: A Game Changer

Every person has one. An event or a person that changed the course of your life for the better. I have too many events and people to name, but the one I’d like to mention today is my grade one teacher, Mrs. Kerr.

My love for books started when I was a 4 year-old, who learned to read by memorizing The Three Little Pigs. It was my favourite story, and my mother read it to me nearly every night. Eventually, I began to recognize the words from the story in other books. By the time I left daycare, I could read and understand the meaning of books, and write words.

I didn’t start collecting books until grade one, when the Scholastic book orders became popular. It was there that I discovered the series Herself the Elf, a board book featuring elves, fairies, and, most importantly, lift-the-flaps.

I bought all three books in the series, and anxiously awaited an opportunity to buy the fourth.

Mrs Kerr took note of my affinity for books and reading, and she always asked me (a very shy and quiet little girl) to read aloud in class because I was as she put it, a “strong reader”.

Toward the end of the year, her daughter, Shannon came to visit our class. To my amazement, Shannon had the fourth book in the Herself the Elf series, and she let me read it. That made me even more excited to buy my own copy.

Then Mrs Kerr told me that the fourth book wasn’t available through the Scholastic order. She bought Shannon’s copy through another source.

I started to cry out of disappointment, and Mrs. Kerr comforted me by saying, “Don’t worry. You have plenty of other books to choose from.”

So I ¬†tearfully accepted that I wouldn’t own Herself the Elf’s Autumn any time soon and picked out something else.

On the last day of school, Mrs. Kerr gave me a gift, wrapped in colourful paper. I opened the box and found my very own copy of Herself the Elf Autumn.

When I turned the book over, I noticed that she wrote a note for me on the back.

(It’s been 25 years, but I’m pretty sure it said something like this)

Dear Erin,

What a pleasure it’s been to have you as a student!

I hope you have a wonderful summer.

Keep on reading!

Love,

Mrs. Kerr

Looking back, I can see how that one act of kindness has influenced my life. Quiet kids often get lost in the shuffle because they don’t make enough noise.

But for some reason, Mrs Kerr noticed me. She noticed how much I loved to read books, and she encouraged me to continue to enjoy them.

Being in her class taught me that I could speak in front of a large group, even when I was afraid, and, that liking books is not a bad thing–in spite of what my classmates said.

She made a difference in my life because, by her actions, she showed she cared about me.

John Maxwell wrote, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I have had a lot of great teachers in the years since, but it was my first grade teacher, Mrs. Kerr, who laid the foundation for my love of reading.

Wherever you are, Thank you for being one of my game-changers.

Have a great day everyone,

Erie