Stay in education long enough, and you are certain to get this question asked of you: Who was the most influential teacher in your life?
For me, the answer is quick and relatively easy. There are two.
The first is my mother. When I think back, especially to my early childhood and upper elementary years, she was there. While I was trying to figure out how to add fractions, she was trying to understand me and how I learned. She had many wonders:
- For a child to whom things seemed to come so quickly, why does he forget to put his shoes on in the morning?
- After getting help to navigate his social studies homework and reminders to put his work in his book bag, how on Earth could he fail to turn it in?
- What is this new (in the mid-eighties) learning difference known as Attention Deficit Disorder, and how is it that his learning profile seems to align with the research as though he had been the subject of study!?
Yes, the first answer is my mother because she helped me understand that a love of reading is a lifelong gift and helped me understand myself as a learner.
So, to the moms who are working on similar discoveries in partnership with the teachers at Belmont Day, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. In so many ways, you are doing critically important work as a teacher, too. May you enjoy this Sunday with your families.
The second most influential teacher is my high school choral director. As one might expect, he was excellent at his craft, but then, all of my high school teachers were. What made Mr. Shephard (or ‘Shep’ as he was known to his students) such a phenomenal educator was the time he made for me, the possibility he saw in me, and the confidence he had in me even when I did not believe in myself. I’ve told him as much since those days. His work with me changed my life, and I can easilyalmost linearlyattribute my career path to head of school to being Shep’s student as a freshman in high school.
The way Shep supported and inspired me mirrors what I see happening every day at Belmont Day. Great teachers make the most of those ‘in between’ moments with students. I wonderwhen a teacher brings a favorite TV show character to life by constructing a 6-foot Gigantosaurus with her pre-k students; or encourages interest in a new sport; or allows extra time for the spark of understanding of a complicated math problem, scientific reaction, or line of poetry to landare these the moments that will alter a child’s path in a new, inspiring direction? Our faculty’s willingness to individualize and go the extra mile for their students has long been the hallmark of our school.
So, as Teacher Appreciation Week concludes and Mother’s Day arrives, there is no better reason for the two of those critical influences to be recognized here in the Scoop, one of the places where family and school meet.
Have a great weekend, everyone.