Pulse of a Teacher
An ESP Honors her Teacher-Friend During Teacher Appreciation Week
What's it like to walk in a teacher's shoes? It's very challenging and gratifying to be a teacher, I suspect, but not always easy. Other than teachers themselves, education support professionals (ESP) might be the best group of people on earth who know the pulse of a teacher's heart.
From May 7-13, millions of people in our nation will pay tribute to teachers during National Teacher Appreciation Week. Since ESPs know what teachers go through every day, I think we can appreciate them as much or more than anyone. Take Debra Jones, for example.
She is a second shift custodian at Crestview Elementary School in the Brunswick City School System, Ohio. Jones decided to honor Intervention Specialist, Kathleen Reed, with a touching poem titled, "A Teacher's Heart." The unique thing about this poem (listed below) is that Jones put herself in the place of her teacher-friend.
The poem is written as if Jones is seeing the world through the eyes of Reed. This is the result of Reed and Jones taking the time to know one another. We all hold dear some teacher from our present or past who was an outstanding instructor, loyal friend, or someone who encouraged students to be their best.
What an honor to walk in their shoes. To know why Jones would take the time and creative energy to honor Reed, we need to dig a little into Jones' background.
She was raised in a small, sleepy town where her father was chief of police. She grew up loving nature and the simple things in life, especially animals but not spiders and snakes. Family and friends are also important to her, she says. So much so that she created a Web Site in which users can showcase the lives of those who have inspired them.
You can bet there are more than a few teachers on the list.
Life has not always been a bed of roses for Jones. This custodian with nine years of service was involuntarily transferred from the elementary school where she had worked most of her career. She had to say goodbye to her school family at Applewood elementary while also suffering the losses of her mom, dad, and younger brother.
Needed a Friend
When this small-town girl found herself at a 7,000-student mega-school, she needed a friend. In Reed, Jones found the down-home support that has helped her prosper. During her free time, Jone is using her writing skills to finish her first novel, "A Cry in the Wilderness."
Jones not only admires what Reed does for a living, but wanted to thank her teacher-friend for helping her make the job transition to a new school. The poem she wrote will be displayed at Crestview during Teacher Appreciation Week. The school district is very fortunate to have two people -- one working inside and the other outside the classroom -- who are friends.
A Teacher's Heart
Standing here, all eyes to see,
I wonder how many will remember me?
Do they realize how much I care?
For once I too sat there and stared.
There's Mary in the second row,
A comely girl with a heart of gold.
Suzy, the rambunctious type,
Most likely bound for a turbulent life.
Thomas studies long and hard,
While homework, Billy, rather disregard.
I took a vow, long ago,
To help each and every one to grow.
I try my best to make class fun,
While gently stressing what must be done.
Can even one of these youngsters imagine,
That I yearn to teach with fevered passion?
Perhaps one day down the road,
They'll stop back to tell me of the seeds they've sown.
Giving true joy to this Teacher's heart,
Knowing I've helped give them a good start!
By Debra M. Jones
(Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NEA or its affiliates.
Dave Arnold: This school custodian and former Illinois Education Association ESP of the Year is a published poet. But most Association members know him best from the editorials -- Dave's View --