It really doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life. Take Heidi and DeAnne, for example. My family recently took a trip that included a few hours of children’s activities each day. To those without young children, that statement translated means our kids vacationed with us, but they weren’t human Gluesticks every minute of the trip.
Now, there are times when a “children’s activity” program is little more than a glorified baby-sitting service run by reluctant draftees who don’t even seem to like kids all that much.
Heidi and DeAnne weren’t that way.
They spent endless hours “oohing” and “aahing” with their little charges, producing “shows,” teaching them songs, working on kid-size projects. So much time, in fact, that after a few days, our kids actually were begging to see Heidi and DeAnne rather than spend time with Mom and Dad.
I don’t suppose these young women were paid any more to listen raptly to breathless children’s tales about this and that, but they seemed to relish each and every moment with our children.
I thought this was interesting in light of this month’s cover story about some of our neighborhood’s best teachers from public and private schools.
There’s no job more demanding than turning boys and girls into men and women. And considering the way of the world these days, that’s no small task.
Single-parent families certainly know the crush of the workday world’s deadlines, and how that part of our lives competes – usually not favorably – with time spent raising our children.
And families with two wage-earners – whether driven by economic necessity or simple choice – also know how much our children are molded during this time spent away from home.
The teachers we’re highlighting this month aren’t the only great teachers in the neighborhood, but they’re among the best. And not surprisingly, a common thread binds their stories – they love children, and they love teaching.
And they seem overjoyed by the opportunity to put forth a Herculean effort each day while performing a relatively low-paying, high-stress job.
Something else interesting can be found in this month’s reminiscences of neighborhood residents about their favorite teachers.
Everyone we approached had a favorite teacher, and perhaps surprisingly, few had ever told their favorite teacher about this singular honor.
That old phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” holds some water here, but there’s probably a greater force at work, too.
Perhaps it’s a little easier to focus on the problems of the day rather than the incremental building blocks of life’s little successes.
But a favorite teacher – recalled five, 10 or even 50 years later – certainly qualifies as a building block worth noting.
As the school year begins again this month, we have another opportunity to remember this sentiment as our children, our neighbor’s children or our children’s children head back to school.
We’ll all be meeting and greeting a teacher or two – either in the school or at the grocery store — and I’m sure they’re job will be a little easier and a little more joyful if each one of us takes the time to thank them for a job well-done.
Even if the job we’re really thanking them for is one that happened a long time ago in a place far, far away.
In fact, I’m going to start the ball rolling right here and now.
Thanks, Heidi and DeAnne.