by Catherine Hedge
One of the best things about being a retired teacher is getting to watch young teachers unfold. With all their vibrancy and youth, they are ready to take over the world, but unsure of how exactly to make it happen. They put on a brave face, but sometimes shudder inside and wonder, “Am I really good enough?” They don’t suffer for a lack of self confidence, but rather because they understand how crucial it is for the children. They will touch lives, for good or ill. They are asked to be the very best they can be…Every day, every minute, no matter what is happening in their lives outside the classroom.
This week, I had the great privilege to watch an undergraduate teach her first lesson, to talk to a new teacher looking for her first job, and to substitute for another with only a few years of teaching experience. They are all marvelous.
As I listened to them, to their hopes and anxieties, I am transported back in time. I am standing where they are now, worried that no one will ever know how hard I try, and fearful I’ll never help a single child. Those old anxieties can still wake me from the deepest sleep.
But it is their turn now.
For you, Young Teachers, I have the greatest hope. I know that you find your courage and strength. The children are waiting.
By Catherine Hedge
A child kicks at gravel beneath the swing
The crossbar above her seems high as the moon.
She shoves hard and wonders, “If I fly high enough, will I reach the stars?
Then, will I be special?
Will everyone remember me if I do?”
A boy hammers his collection of stones
Setting sparks flying off the granite edge.
He hits hard and wonders, “If I find gold, a diamond, the missing link,
Then will I be special?
Will anyone remember me if I do?”
Time slides by, the children grow, and daydreams slip away.
The child now a woman and the boy a man
Transformed to teachers, new and tense
She glares at blank slate boards, black and ominous
He clenches brittle chalk in sweaty palms
Both wonder, “If I turn now and run, will they still find me?
Will anyone remember what I do?”
After all these years the answers come
Scribbled in crayon,“Dear Techr yur mi best fren”
Shouted, “See, Teacher! I can do it now!”
Whispered in a senior’s embrace,
“I never would’a made it without you!”
Hundreds of children tell their children
“I’ll never forget, Mr____. He was the greatest!”
“I hope you get one like her. She was special.”
They all remember what you do
For here are your diamonds
They are your stars.
For all these years you’ve kicked hard,
Swung high, and let the young fly free
You’ve passed the stars into eternity.
© 2012 Catherine Hedge