She found me in the library – where else? – and proposed something unlikely: would I like to join the year book club? Miss Banga was my English teacher in my sophomore year and I thought she was great. Not only did she spend her days doing what I hoped to do someday but she also was comfortable with herself in that she laughed easily, she enjoyed her students so made us all feel good about being in her room and she adored literature which showed in the way she lovingly talked about authors and even in how she held her books. I was her fan from the start.
As a student who was trying to get through high school while flying under the radar, it never occurred to me that I would join a group that wasn’t sports. But since she was the one asking and she clearly had noticed my proclivities ( a word she and I would use unashamedly ), I didn’t want to turn her down. So in my junior year I stretched out of my comfort zone because she asked me to and I found a place to blossom. By spring, she asked me to be the editor the following year and I accepted with no hesitation. That year was a glorious one in which I had a purpose, daily connection with this lovely teacher who instilled all her confidence into me and an ever-increasing view of who I was to become. And it was all because of how the Lord used her.
Sidney Hook insists that “Everyone who remembers his own education remembers the teacher, not the methods or techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.” In my experience, this is true. In my Kindergarten through bachelor’s degree and beyond education, I’ve had my share of teachers. Some lacked passion, some lacked skill and others lacked kindness. Others went above and beyond, knew their students and brought their A game every single class period. They listened and noticed; enlivened and inspired.
To enter a classroom takes a measure of trust and for those who love education or those who endure it, the teacher makes the experience. Sure, I’m thankful if they’ve discovered an effective technique to help me learn fractions (no one ever did in my case) or have a method of classroom management where all are valued (a few got it right), but what I really want as a student – and will remember – is your love. Not only do you love the subject, but do you love your students enough to notice them? Being known is one of the first steps in trust. To be noticed and feel that someone finds you interesting or capable or worthy…that is not only memorable but precious.
As I begin another year as a teacher, aka the best job in the world, it’s humbling to know that I stand in the heart of the educational system for my students. For some, I’m going to get it right; for others, my peers will. Since I now teach homeschooled kids, their moms and some dads have been the heart of their educational system and I reap the benefits in having students who are grounded, bright and centered. For many, the parent is the heart of the educational system. Together, we aim to give your child an education that will transcend these childhood years.
Thank you for teaching me that, Miss Banga. You’re so humble that you probably would brush off the compliment but knowing you, you’d just want me to go out and do that for someone else. I hope everyone who teaches kids does because every touch point is an opportunity to realize that this child’s life is important and what we do today matters for a lifetime.