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Heartfelt Teaching

Sitting still was not something Gail could do. She tried, though. When circumstances brought her and her older sister to the convent boarding school, her wiggles kept her in constant trouble. The Nuns were not patient with the bubbly active girl.

“Why can’t you be quiet like your older sister?” Gail heard this every day.

Rambunctiousness was not allowed. Her punishment was continual. She cleaned chalkboards, scrubbed toilets, but the worst was taking a rough cloth and getting all the black heel marks off the wooden floors. The mandatory uniforms included shoes that left telltale heel tracks, and Gail spent most of her time on her hands and knees scrubbing back and forth trying to remove each one.

Besides the intense scrutiny of the custodians, Gail had to have her work approved by her teacher. Naturally, there were dozens of girls walking by as she scrubbed, and some purposely left fresh marks, turning around with a smirk to make sure Gail noticed.

Endurance could be used to describe Gail’s boarding school experience. But while she spent hours cleaning floors, seeds were planted deep in her heart. They’d sprout much later.

College typically can be done in four years. Gail accomplished her goals over a span of a decade and a half. She had to work while earning her degrees. But those seeds were growing within her. She was going to be the teacher she wished she’d had.

Years later, while teaching college, she maintained an open office door policy. If a student needed help, she helped. She told one of her students, “Don’t let your circumstances stop you. Hard things help you build more roads for yourself.”

It was just another day in her teaching career and like teachers everywhere, it was part of the daily effort to help. Sometimes you might even inspire a student with well-timed advice.

Little did Gail know that someone overheard that conversation that day and was inspired. Me.

Auntie Gail, I remembered your words when hard circumstances tried to stop me.

I salute teachers who’ve chosen to inspire students in their minds, and in their hearts.

Perhaps, my beloved teachers, you don’t know the difference you’ve made along the way, but please know, you have.


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