Leslie’s newsletter was so perfect this week that I asked her permission to share it with ms staff as well. To me, this is #whatmatters . Thanks for the inspiration Leslie and Shawnee!
The photos and the post happened on none other than Facebook! 🙂 The picture you see is of one of my dearest friends in the world. I met her my very first year teaching at David Cox Elementary. This is a picture of her in her first year teaching with her first class of 5th graders.
In the beginning of 5th grade Zhykia had a lot of gaps in the areas of reading and math. She did not consider herself a reader at all. In fact, it is probably safe to say she wasn’t a huge fan of school because she lacked confidence in herself. Lucky for her she got Miss Voelp for a teacher that year! She spent the year building her up and forming a relationship with her that was important enough for Zhykia to find her seventeen years later on Facebook to say thank you! WOW! Isn’t that what we all want? To make a difference in someone’s life, to be that someone who helped him or her gain the confidence to know that they could read and think about text and grapple with numbers, but more importantly do it while having fun and with someone who they know deeply and genuinely cares about them. She changed this child’s life and knowing Shawnee as I do, feel confident in saying has changed many more along the way. I attached the next photo because I wanted you to see what Zhykia’s mom posted on Facebook.
“She was great, a true teacher…dedicated!” Now, what you don’t know about Zhykia’s mom is that when she found out that her daughter had a new, young teacher she tried to have her moved out of that classroom into another class. The principal refused to move the child, and two weeks later Zhykia’s mom came into the classroom in the middle of math hugged Shawnee so hard that she lifted her off the floor and told her that this was the first time Zhykia had wanted to come to school and that she was sorry that she had made a quick judgement about her, she was a fine young teacher! Pretty amazing, especially for a first year teacher, right? Or is it? There was no magic to what she did, or maybe there was. Magic in that she took the time to really get to know Zhykia. She understood how she learned and what worked best for her. She formed a relationship with her, one that Zhykia has remembered for seventeen years! As you wrap up the last few weeks of school with your students I hope you will think about Zhykia and Shawnee and the relationships you have with your students. Are they the kind of relationships that students will hold on to for seventeen years or longer? If not, what can you do with these last few weeks to make them ones that they will remember you as a game changer in their lives? Remember laughter and fun go a long way with our sweet kiddos, especially when they get stressed about EOG’s, getting new teachers, the hectic pace of the end of the year. Read books, sing songs, dance, go on walks, stop and really listen to what they are saying. You may not realize the impact you are having. You never know when your thank you might come, or in what shape, form, or fashion. When it does I know it will mean more to you than any score on a test, award or paycheck!
Finally, check out the last photo, it is of Zhykia all grown up. She is a speech pathologist in Charlotte, and beautiful to boot!
Have a fantastic week, and I can’t wait to spend time with all of you at the retreat!