I had the sweetest surprise yesterday. I was in my hometown doing some grocery shopping for my mom when I passed a familiar face in the jelly aisle. I could hardly believe how little she had changed over the past 29 years as I timidly called out her name. She remembered me, and my eleventh grade English teacher and I hugged like long-time friends.
Though she may have thought of me a few times since I graduated, I’ve thought of her so often… because on a daily basis, I use what she taught me. She encouraged my penchant for words and placed value on the scribblings in my daily class journal. While in her eleventh grade English class, I discovered that processing my thoughts through pencil to page was well worth the effort, and my path as a “writer” opened wide.
Mrs. Hayden is now 84 1/2 years old and seemed just as sharp as she was thirty years ago. We discussed life, family, and the effect that technology is having on the mastery of the English language. Dire, indeed. She admitted to lagging so far technically behind that she doesn’t even have an email address. But, she is considering purchasing an iPad, so I cheered her on. I promised her that it would be money well spent. (Then maybe she can read this post. Haha.)
We talked for probably 20 minutes, but my favorite part of our conversation was when I got to share with her what God has called me to do with my life – to write and speak for Him. To be able to tell my writing teacher (29 years after taking her class) that I am a writer, largely because of the love and confidence SHE instilled in me way back then, and to be able to thank her for that… It was priceless to me.
I was the age my son is now. And like him, in the eleventh grade, I had no inkling of the fruit to be produced from the seeds faithfully planted by my teachers. God blessed my life with an abundance of special adults who tirelessly (and most often thanklessly) poured their energy and knowledge into my young, unaware-of-the-need-to-be-grateful head. It was a privilege to run into one of these dear souls today and to tell her that she made a difference in my life.
I was an elementary teacher before I had children. I know the expense of heart, energy, emotion, time, and wallet that goes into a year’s worth of teaching. Its a calling, not a job, whose salary benefits include the joy of seeing eyes opened & lives changed through knowledge gained. But it can also seem a difficult, sometimes impossible, and often thankless calling.
If you are a teacher who has poured yourself into imparting knowledge to the young and yet-unaware-of-the-need-to-be-grateful, may this post be a tiny reminder today that you ARE making a difference. The seeds you so faithfully sow will one day reap a harvest. It may be twenty-nine years later when you get to taste the fruit, but what you sow and water today will make a difference for years to come.
With a grateful heart, I say THANK YOU to all of the Mrs. Haydens out there who may never run into your former students. In some way each one of you have done what the old slogan says:
“To teach is to touch a life forever.”
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal. 6:9
May the Blessings of The Lord be upon each of you who teach~
PS: Mrs. Cook, I know that you know how God has used you in my life – in addition to my Speech & Senior English education, but I couldn’t not include you somewhere in this post. You & Mrs. Hayden… Writing & Speaking… I’m so grateful for you both! 😉