There are many teachers who may be able to get a needed rest this summer. That is, if they don’t have to work a second job, teach summer school or use a lot of their time preparing for fall classes.
Teachers and other educators have a tremendous amount of responsibility these days, and usually the pay is not commensurate with the tasks performed.
Society has changed so much. Now teachers must worry about gunmen coming into the school. They must keep track of student data, keep abreast of the latest technology and be there for their students. Not to mention daily duties like taking attendance, resolving disputes and guaranteeing that all students learn.
My daughter-in-law, Alisa Gilmore, recently went to Birmingham, Alabama, to celebrate the retirement after 44 years of teaching of her mother, Melba Smith.
She went to her mom’s school, Louis Pizitz Middle School, which Alisa attended as a child. Different students would approach her mom enthusiastically to share a funny story or ask for her advice. Alisa said it was like she was everyone’s grandma.
It was apparent that Smith had established strong relationships with her students. She told Alisa about the personalities and gifts that individual students had. At one point, she called a young lady over to introduce Alisa to her, and told of her gift of art, her maturity and how well she would do in secondary school.
The girl beamed, and it was obvious that Smith embraced and encouraged students in a very special way.
Another young lady whom Smith had not had as a student approached her and gave her a big hug. She said, “Mrs. Smith, I wanted you to know that you really helped me and the impact you had on me.” Alisa did not know what was behind the emotional hug, but it was evident that her mom was there when that student needed her most.
The night of the eighth-grade dance, a male student was hanging outside the door. Smith went outside to encourage him to come in. At that point, the boy turned to her in tears and fell into her arms and told her that he was going through a hard time with family issues. He seemed to feel better after Smith hugged him back and listened to him. He soon rejoined the dance.
Alisa said, “I believe mom’s presence as a teacher was truly a ministry. She just happened to also be an excellent algebra teacher. Her co-workers appreciated her work ethic and her firm and calm presence. They expressed how much she would be missed during her retirement party.”
Lonnie, Melba’s devoted husband, and Alisa will be the first to tell you that her loving and caring ways have been such a blessing to them over the years.
Many people with other careers will never know the joy that honorable teachers experience when they have positively affected their students’ lives.
“A teacher affects eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops.” — Henry Brooks Adams