After a few weeks in the classroom, Anne knows which of her students are struggling. Sometimes its money. She has a ready supply of pens, paper, and binders to give away. Some kids come to school ill-equipped for cold weather. She hits the secondhand stores for an assortment of warm sweaters, coats, and boots.
And before the high school’s spring dance, she’s scanning consignment racks for cute prom dresses and guy’s dress shirts. Her students won’t be left out because they didn’t have anything to wear.
Some students need more time than a class period. So, Anne keeps her door open so students have a place to go after school.
Sometimes she’ll even ask a student to stay after school. It’s more than just homework catch-up, it’s because she cares about their future. She knows that school is their ticket to a more hopeful one.
With almost three decades in the classroom, there aren’t many needs she hasn’t seen among her students. Anne jokes that she has a husband, family, and two hundred adopted kids. Not all her students will head to college, but all need to pass her class to graduate—and even more than her language arts course, they need life-skills.
So, part of her “curriculum” is teaching kids to balance a checking account and to budget their living expenses. Students create a resume, and practice interviewing for a job. She calls this her “Eyes Wide Open” unit. She figures that if her own kids needed this, so do the rest of her kids.
Anne will never be rich in the conventional way, but she keeps her real treasure in a closet. It’s a box full of letters, cards, even scribbled notes of thanks from the students whose lives she impacted.
She doesn’t do all that she does for the thanks. She’ll be the first to say that she teaches because she loves helping students have a better future—and when they do, that is all the thanks she really needs.
Many schools are blessed with teachers who invest their time and more money than they admit, making their classrooms a place where students can thrive.
This is Teacher Appreciation Week and it’s a great time to send a thank you note to the ones who made a difference in your life. Unless you tell them, they may never know.
Karen Farris saw the need to help underserved kids while serving in a youth ministry that gave her the opportunity to visit rural schools on the Olympic Peninsula. She now volunteers her time grant writing to bring resources to kids in need. She also shares stories of faith in action for those needing a dose of hope on her weekly blog, Friday Tidings.www.fridaytidings.com