Teacher Appreciation Day is here! I have been impatiently waiting for this day! In our family, teachers are revered. Growing up, I understood my teachers were to be respected. I knew if I got reprimanded at school, it would likely be worse at home. This was something I never questioned. It parallels other values of our family – to respect our elders and to respect authority.
Recently, on a phone chat with my Lita (abuelita), she shared with me some pretty moving experiences in which I have found life guidance. My Lita did not finish her formal education. She studied hard in class to take and pass her GED on the first try. She also deceived my Lito (abuelito) into taking it, and passing, without studying or preparation – one of my favorite stories for another day.
My Lita, a mother to six, grandmother to 17, and great grandmother to nine, shared with me that she felt scared when it was time for her older children to begin attending school. She did not finish traditional school. The unknowing evoked anxiety laden fear. She wondered what ideas, beliefs, and teachings would be instilled in her precious children. My Lita began to get choked up as she shared with me what followed. “Mijita! Then, your Tio and Tia starting coming home from school and when I asked them what they learned they began reading to me!” She went on to joyfully (and a bit tearfully) tell me that she witnessed the miracle of these teachers in her children. She then lost herself briefly as she described all six of her children’s successes equally, as if I had never met them, telling me their teachers helped create those people. She offered guidance that one day I will hopefully be a mother and I may feel scared in regards to leaving my child, whether it is going back to work, my child starting school, or their first night away from home. She offered encouragement that those feelings are okay and that I will need to pray the fear away for the development of our child.
This story from my Lita taught me that teachers do the work of The Lord; I now understand why my abuelitos set the family culture to encompass veneration for teachers. They are so much more than educators in a classroom. Teachers shape us in ways they will never realize, or maybe some do. I watch my mom and a cousin, both teachers, pour their existence into their careers, much like many teachers I know. I had a high school English teacher with her PhD; she chose high school students on her own volition. I had another English teacher with severe RA, who battled her body just to share with us. I think back with heart pains, knowing every day was a battle for her body, and she willfully chose to spend that time battling with us. My mom is often at the school late at night and on the weekends. When I lived in close proximity, I ventured to her classroom when I couldn’t find her at home. Every time, her classroom is where I found her. To the teachers I had, to my mom, and to other teachers, this is not a job. It is a calling, a career to which their lives are entirely devoted.
Teachers, you deserve to be celebrated today and every day! Thank you for all the countless hours you pour into our children, holding them accountable, developing them into intentional leaders and members of society. I appreciate ALL that you do, the seen and the unseen, the heard and the unheard. Thank you!
Please take the time to comment about a special teacher before sharing this with them to let them know how special they are! I can’t wait to read about these teachers!
Vaya con Dios.