I met a school teacher named Liz yesterday in a gift shop in North Dakota. She worked behind the counter but, believe me, she is still a school teacher. You can just tell.
As I discovered her story (a small part of it), she shared how she graduated from college in this small town in central North Dakota and how she stayed her, teaching elementary school for 34 years. She ran a tight ship, for sure. She had retired several years ago and started working in this gift shop in Jamestown to make a little money.
As Liz talked to me, suddenly two small children came in from seeing the live buffalo in the rear of the property and ran through HER gift shop. As one tried to run by her, she gently stopped him and said, “You forgot. No running through my gift shop.”
She told the story of a third grade boy who was a bully beginning in Kindergarten. When he reached her third grade class, he still couldn’t read. She took him aside, gave him special attention after school was long-dismissed, and by the end of the school year, he was reading well enough to move to the fourth grade.
After his high school graduation and again after his college graduation he wrote to her, thanking her for the special attention and love he received in third grade. He said that he didn’t know where he would’ve ended up without her. As she told me that, a tear came to her eye, she became a little fidgety over showing the emotion and moved onto other chores.
There are many like Liz along the road. Some with stories of regret. Some with stories of leaving a legacy and making a diffeence.
So, if your listening Mrs. Kohler or Mr. Hale, thanks for making a difference in my schooling. You inspired me and lit a fire under me when I needed it.
And “thank you” to all you school teachers out there… you are making a difference!