As Summer comes to a close and the new
school year is just around the bend
I start to think more and more about
the people who have shaped me into
who I am today:
Besides my grandma and mom, I've had some of the
most wonderful teachers ever!
But a particular one always, always comes into my mind at very odd moments in my life.
Moments, such as when I
asked my Autistic son's kindergarten teacher if he had friends, then she showed me a picture of him surrounded by his buddies all smiling.
My biggest worry was that my little guy (now my Big Guy) wouldn't be able to make friends because of his "quirkiness".
But this kind teacher assured me he did. And best of all she loved him. Truly loved him.
As I left her classroom with tears in my eyes, I sat in my car for a moment and when I looked up there was her class, exiting the cafeteria on their way to recess.
My son, was the line leader that day, and he was holding hands and skipping all the way to the playground!
How could this little, chubby quirky kid be so at ease in an environment we all thought he would not really thrive in?
Oh, it was because his teacher loved him.
My first recollection of being in America
was going to school.
I didn't know the language.
I didn't know anybody.
It was the first grade.
I went in with my mother and waited for the teacher to
come and talk to us.
She was beautiful, Ms. Gallagher was.
Tall, blond hair and blue eyes.
She had the loveliest eyes.
Sky blue they were.
I had never seen eyes like hers
'cept for in the movies.
But what striked me the most was the
kindness in those eyes.
I wish I had a picture of my teacher so you could see what I mean.
Reading was fundemental to Ms. Gallagher as it is to most 1st grade teachers.
I barely understood her, but I knew that the
tables labeled with 1, 2 and 3 meant something about
being a good reader.
So with that in my little 7 year old mind I knew I had
to impress my Golden Teacher by being a good reader.
She started me out at table 1.
For the "slow" readers.
For me that meant I had to work harder not
So every day after school I would run home
and watch PBS. Yep, I learned how to speak English
by watching TV.
Mr. Rogers, Electric Company, Sesame Street and
the Mickey Mouse Club were my teachers at home
where the only one who spoke English was my
caucasian grandfather (but he chose to speak Spanish so everyone would understand him)
Weeks went by and I quickly picked up on this
I was moved to table 2.
Soon as I was reading chapter books, "Red Rock Ranch" and the like.
Within 8 weeks I had moved up to the
coveted table 3.
I had arrived.
I read fluently.
Ms. Gallagher encouraging me every step of the way.
Ms. Gallagher putting her arm around my little
skinny shoulder using me as an example for the others
Ms. Gallagher bending down to my little level and helping
me sound out the big words.
And gently whispering, "I knew you could do it. By reading, Aurora, you can be anything you want to be. The sky is the limit."
I still remember.
How can I forget?
Her soft blue eyes staring straight into my dark brown eyes, filled with hope and aspiration.
Yes, I thought, "Read!!"
And read I did!
So much so that by mid school year I was "skipped" over to the 2nd grade :(
I was advancing too fast :( or :)
As I waved goodbye to Ms. Gallagher with crocodile tears in my eyes I vowed never to forget her.
And I haven't.
I read about 2-3 books per week
on a slow week ;)
And by doing so, I can be anything and anyone
I want to be.
So I share this view with my own children.
Let your minds soar.
Explore other worlds.
There you'll be, between the pages of a book.
To all the Ms. Gallaghers out there
A big shout out to you!
And thank you.
For loving me and my little children :)