In Your Words
What I hope students will remember most about me
"As a school counselor for first through fourth graders, I'm often asked to work with children who have discipline problems. I try to create a place where students feel they have someone they can trust. I hope they'll remember that there was one place in school where no one disciplined them, was impatient with them, or shouted at them; that they had a place where they could talk safely about anything."
Arlyne Berzak, Paterson, New Jersey, with her frog friend who helps get kids talking
"Growing up, I was quite the bookworm. Reading took me to amazing places, and my passion for reading and literature has only grown. When I'm teaching Shakespeare, Poe, and Wright, that passion is what I want my students to experience. Most kids think reading is boring and lame, so I show them my passion so that they, too, can feel it. I act out what I'm reading and get the students fully engrossed in the literature. I may make a fool of myself, but that's what I want them to remember in 20 years...that reading can be fun."
Nichole Lesniak, Woodbridge, New Jersey
"I recently started chemotherapy for breast cancer. I've had a mastectomy, and have lost my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. I'm tired a lot of the time. But I hope to show, by my actions and words, that the important things in life are love, compassion, and understanding. Some day, many of the students in my school will face cancer in their own lives. I want them to remember me and think, "Mrs. Barber did it with a smile," and not feel as afraid. I want them to remember courage and love when they think about me. "
Donna Barber, Miami, Oklahoma
"As a library media specialist, I hope that my students remember me as the librarian who actually talked to them! The libraries of my youth were as quiet as a graveyard. Librarians may have smiled at you, but nobody ever cheerfully asked, "How are you today?" or "What did you think about that book?" I always found it strange that books were so colorful and full of life and activity but the libraries that housed them were not.
If my students have no conception of the clichéd librarian who wears glasses on a chain and constantly hisses "sshh!" then I have done my job!"
Judith Furnari, Hannibal, New York
"Above all else, I hope my children will remember that I love them—I love them for who they are each day and who they will be in the future, and for everything they have overcome just to make it to school each day. I hope they will know that they are the reason I get up and go to work every morning, administration and NCLB notwithstanding. I hope they will know that the days when we bumped heads the hardest is when I loved them the most. "
Thea Durling, Fitchburg, Massachusetts
"To carve out time for each child, I started inviting my second-graders to tea. We called it "Tea with M.E." (Miss Erickson). Each week, one table of students remained in our classroom for lunch. They brought their lunches, and I provided the tea, hot cocoa, and cups from my antique collection. It became a time to catch up, connect, and provide lessons in etiquette. At the end of the year, my students presented me with a handmade vase with the words: "We will always remember Tea with Miss E!"
Jennifer Erickson, Batavia, Illinois
We want to hear from you!
What's the most memorable gift you've ever received from a student?
Please use specific examples and anecdotes, and we'll consider your submission for an upcoming issue of NEA Today.
Visit our forums or email Cindy Long at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: NORMAN Y. LONO