“the teachers who cared more than i ever knew”

I love Butch Walker.  I’ve been reading his memoir lately, Drinking With Strangers, and it solidifies for me the fact that he is my second-favorite musical artist.  My husband, of course, is my all-time favorite. 

I didn’t catch the above lyric in Butch Walker’s song “Summer of ’89” the first time I listened, or even the second or third.  I was in a daze one afternoon while driving home from school when I caught the quick ode to his former educators.  It isn’t significant, except that it’s in the middle of a country/rap breakdown of his life story, and he obviously felt that his teachers were worth the shout out. 

It was a new and interesting perspective for me: no matter their experience, my students will remember me twenty years from now.  At first this was a source of much anxiety, as I am a naturally paranoid person.  “Do they like me?”  “Will they remember me at all?”  “Am I doing anything that will change their lives for the better?” 

Then I took comfort in this – my students will remember me.  I do something every day that will stay with students for years after they leave my classroom.  And I also get to teach them. 

When Butch Walker was in school, and when I was for that matter, there were no high stakes tests to monopolize the attention of our teachers.  Educators could afford to invest in their students without being afraid of being put on probation because of low test scores.  And when a student was asked how they like their 6th grade social studies class, their response was something more than, “I scored a 470 on the exam.”  Now even with the added responsibility of these assessments for both student and educator, teachers still find time to know the people we see and teach every day.  And we remember all of them. 

Today is the StoryCorps National Day of Listening.  Take a minute, or even a few, to tell your former teachers that you remember them.  It makes us feel good, and it helps us write the lesson plans, do the paperwork, and answer for the test scores. 

I’m posting and writing about the teachers who help me teach, and about the ones who taught me when I was a student.  Teachers like Mr. Raven, who taught me that mitigate = make less severe because you were driving in your car and you swerved to hit a gate (rhymes with mitigate) to avoid hitting another car.  And Madame Perney, who introduced me to Le Petit Prince, which is one of my favorite books to this day because of what it says and because of how she taught it.  And Mrs. Holland, who taught the geographic regions of South Carolina like it was her job…because it was.  And Mrs. Smoak, who taught me US History, and taught me how to love history, and inspired me to be a teacher.

Thank you.