I was an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in the public school system. I loved my job! I was one of those busy beaver teachers, up late most nights re-creating all of the expensive gadgets I'd see for sale in the catalogs. My students meant very much to me and that compelled me to give all I had to the job.
My first year teaching was in Austin. I had a class of 26 students! Yikes! Like most classrooms mine was a huge mix of behaviors, learning styles, personalities and being ESL, languages. I had a little boy that was just precious to me. By second grade he already had a file bigger than most fifth graders. It was all based on his behavior and his inability to read. You know, as a 7 year old. Well, that's all it took for me. I am a cheerleader for the under-dog, always have been. I was determined to show that boy that he was loved. We had a trying year, but we were buddies. His mom came to my meetings for the first time in H's school life. She had always been afraid, because she and her husband spoke no English. But she understood that her son was cared for. The last day of school H came into the classroom with a gift wrapped in a plastic sack. I carefully opened it and found a ceramic bird on a giant yellow rose. And then the best part- his mom kissed me on the cheek. Favorite gift. Ever.
That same year I had a little girl from Ethiopia. She was so beautiful and quiet. And behind academically (so her file read). For Christmas that year she gave me a 12 pack of lipstick, with one missing! Loved it! She was so proud of that lipstick and told me how she had picked it out herself at the dollar store. The icing on the cake was when she asked me if I would wear some. Hmm... Of course! She chose the deepest red I have ever seen. I mean, it wasn't even a real color- it was purple red. When I put it on it burned! Ha! But she thought I looked beautiful, so I left it on all day. Second favorite gift.
And lastly, this one is way less sentimental, but awfully tasty. I was working in a school that was an interesting mix of extremely wealthy ranch owners and the rural poor. I should tell you more about that some time- I learned some big lessons there. Anyway, for Christmas one year a mom brought me a basket full of goodies from Great Harvest Bread. I'll never forget that sight! Raisin bread, whole wheat bread, cookies, muffins- it was more bread than a girl should eat.
Ok- I probably should mention the worst gift I received. Mind you, I was 23 years old, and probably a size 4. A mom brought me a t-shirt that had a print of a blackboard, a globe, and an apple. The line read "teaching is a work of heart". Ok, cheesy, but it would have been appreciated. However- it was an extra large! Wha???
Oh- thanks for indulging me here! It has been nice to think back on those days, and all of those sweet students. Teaching is a wild ride.