Wednesday, October 5, 2011

World Teacher's Day

Today is World Teacher's Day.

Please try not to die of jealousy if you do not have a sport coat this groovy.  It doesn't work for everyone.

As most of you know, I spent the better part of my adult life as a teacher.  Although I am no longer in the classroom, my immediate response to the question, "What do you do?" is, unfailingly, "I am a teacher."  This was my response no matter what grade or subject I was teaching.  This was my response even in those years when I'd walked away from my profession altogether and was a full-time stay-at-home mom.  Teaching was more than a job to me, it was the source of my identity.

I am a teacher.

I come from a family of teachers.  Many of my relatives are teachers.  Some have retired or moved on to other lines of work, but I assume that they - like me - still identify as teachers.  I know I still think of them in that manner.

My dad was a teacher.

He was one helluva teacher.

He was never voted teacher of the year, or anything like that - and it bothered me a lot more than it bothered him.  He said that he was there to teach - not to make friends - not to have his students like him or think he was cool - to teach.

And he did.

He was extremely dedicated.

If a student struggled in his class, all they needed to do to get his help was ask.  He was always willing to put in extra time and effort to make sure that his points had gotten across.
Algebra is easy.  Once you know the right equation to use, you just plug it in and crank it out.

He cared.

Most students saw a strict teacher who taught an unpopular course.  Some of the lucky ones saw a man with an extra dry wit. It's cool that not everyone recognized or appreciated that.  It made it all the much sweeter for those who did.

Recently I was going through some old pictures with my mom.  I suppose it's something folks tend to do when a loved one passes on.  We came across a whole box of pictures of him that had been taken for the yearbook.  My mom, upon seeing the way I lingered over those shots, offered them to me.  I didn't take them all, but I took the ones that were taken during the time that my being a high school student intersected with him being a high school teacher.  At the time, by the way, I really hated that. Funny how time changes perspective.  

I had been having some difficulties dealing with my father's passing.  I was at his bedside, along with my mother and my sister, when he died.  We were all glad that we had been there - no regrets.  The problem was - in the months following his passing - that became the source of my predominant memories of him.  When I thought of him, try as I might to make it otherwise, it was as he was in those final painful hours.  

Somehow, those pictures helped.  How lucky was I - to know my father as the man he was in the home and also as the teacher he was in the school.  I still haven't been able to pull up more recent memories with any degree of clarity, though I am trying - but now - thanks to these pictures - I am able to remember him in a capacity that was lost to me many years ago.

Or was it?

For me, it was his legacy.

Thanks, Daddy.


Unknown said...

He was a handsome teacher! I'll bet some of the girls' hearts went pitty-pat when he smiled! It's great that you have those photos to help you remember the wonderful things about your Dad.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for teachers! I believe it's one of the most under appreciated professions.

Anonymous said...

Those pictures are priceless. I think when you're a teacher, it's in your soul.