To Teach is a Gift
Years ago, when I was about 19 and in college studying to become a Special Education teacher, there was a woman who truly inspired me. She was 60 and had done what society had expected of her at that time when she was young. She married, had children and stayed home to raise them and kept a beautiful home while her husband worked to bring in the income. Life happened, the children grew up and she ended up divorced and on her own. For the first time in her life, she was free to make her own choices about her life without having to worry about everyone else and how it would impact them.
She shared with me that she had always wanted to be a teacher. It was her dream. There had not been money for her to go to college after she graduated from high school. She got married and settled into being a homemaker and mother, but the dream never left her. She volunteered at her children's schools and in their classrooms and the desire to become a teacher just got stronger. When she found herself divorced and alone after her children were all raised and had established lives and families of their own, she decided to finally do something for her and went to college to become a teacher.
I remember there being some students and even a professor who thought she was crazy. They would comment behind her back that she was wasting her time because she was too old to become a teacher and no one would hire her because of her age. Oh that made me mad! First of all, here was a woman who had all this life experience raising her own children and helping out in classrooms for years working with students. She clearly knew what she wanted to do and her determination to get her teaching degree and help students learn was inspirational! She also knew that her age might be a stumbling block for some people, but that hopefully others would see it as an asset. She used to joke that she would have an advantage teaching kids with special needs because she knew how hard it was to have to learn all this new stuff for the first time and struggle through it when the "other students" had the advantage of having been in school continuously and not having had a 42 year "break" in their education where everything had seemed to change. ;) I loved that she was not afraid to ask questions in class when she did not understand something, even if the mean professor would kind of roll her eyes and huff when she did (to be fair, this particular professor did the same thing to all of us that were studying to become Special Education teachers...she seemed to think we were all beneath her).
I was blessed to have many classes and be in a study group with this amazing woman. Her wit, determination, and passion for teaching quickly won over most of her sceptics over. By the time we were all ready to graduate, she, like the rest of us, was nervous about trying to find her first teaching job. One of the things that will always stick with me was our graduation ceremony and seeing her beaming with pride and her children and grandchildren there supporting her and clapping and cheering for her as she walked across that stage to receive her hard earned diploma. It was one of the most heartwarming moments I have ever witnessed.
I lost touch with her after graduation. I got my first teaching job and moved out of state shortly after I graduated from college. I have always wondered where her first teaching job took her. I do know that she had glowing recommendations from her time student teaching. I also know from having worked with her over the years in school that she was going to make an awesome teacher and her students would be blessed beyond measure! After all, she followed her dreams and would teach her students that it is never too late and that nothing can stand in their way of accomplishing their own dreams. Now that is a teacher that I would want for my own children!