I could write about 20 different topics this week, because this past week base been an absolute absurdity in the State Department of Education, and the infiltration of additional attempts at ALEC legislation has continued. However, I am not an expert in these areas and I think that Rob Miller and Okeducationtruths have done an extraordinary job documenting these events. I HIGHLY SUGGEST reading each post from them that has occurred this past week. I decided to take a different approach and provide an elaboration to a post by Jason James regarding relationships.
Dr. Barresi has stated, “If you don’t measure it, it doesn’t matter. And that’s what we’re focused on”. If you don’t believe me, read this post by Okeducationtruths, and check out the 45:45 mark on this video. With that being said…my teachers failed. I say that my teachers failed, because I never remember my teachers making measurable data the largest priority in their classrooms.
Keep in mind that I am only 26 and graduated high school in 2007, so my experiences with high school are pretty recent. During high school, I was subjected to EOI’s and I remember getting test anxiety and hating the process to prepare for these tests. I’m sure that the majority of my teachers believed that measurable data was important, but I know that they believed that taking time to know their students and developing them into positive and productive members of society was the most important part of the learning process. I would like to publicly thank four of these teachers, and hopefully I will convey the importance of immeasurable relationships.
Alisha Cary: Mrs. Cary was my math teacher senior year. As with most seniors, I was ready to get out of high school and go on to college. Mrs. Cary put up with a lot of my antics in class, and my difficulty staying seated for an hour -long class. She was one of the most patient teachers that I ever had, and she wasn’t afraid to laugh with her students. As a second-year teacher, I understand the frustration that can come with students who are absent often. I was always one of those “Stuco kids” that was absent…Mrs. Cary never hinted that my absences frustrated her, but chose to continually hold me accountable for the content that I missed and was willing to help me get back on track after absences. On the last day of class, Mrs. Cary gave every student a card with a hand-written message on it. Mine says: “I wish you the best in your future I know God has great plans for your life. You are an incredible person & I cannot wait to see how your life will unfold. I know you will be used in a mighty way. I’m so glad to have had you in class this year.” I continue to hold Mrs. Cary and her family as people that I admire. They are as good as it gets. Mrs. Cary, thanks for believing in me and not being afraid to speak words of life.
Jonikka Berglan: Technically, Mrs. Berglan was never my teacher but she was the choir teacher at my middle school. I was not in choir, but she was always someone that students loved. Mrs. Berglan has been through some very difficult circumstances over the past few years, but she and her husband have continually impacted people in a positive way. Whenever my brother died a little over four years ago, she constantly sent me encouraging words and I knew that she was praying for my family. Even though this teacher was experiencing a difficult time in her life, she continued to pour into mine. Mrs. Berglan, I know that you don’t “teach” anymore, but I guarantee that you have impacted generations. Your current words and actions are just as impacting as your days in the classroom. Thank you.
Karen Evans: Ms. Evans was lucky enough to have me in science class two years in a row! Her class was always challenging, but always fair. She demanded greatness, and I really believe that she obtained it most of the time. Ms. Evans built our Chemistry course into an amazing program. Eventually, she became a guidance counselor. When this happened, the Chemistry program went downhill. After two years, she left her counseling position and went back into the classroom that she left. She has built the course back into an outstanding program. She couldn’t stand seeing her students not receiving the best possible instruction. Ms. Evans is a teacher that would do nearly anything to see her students succeed. She even met with us during the summer, whenever we had difficulty with her summer assignment. Ms. Evans continually let me have outlandish goals, and never once made me feel like they were unobtainable. I think that I told her that I’ve wanted to be: a doctor, surgeon, psychologist, President of the USA, and a teacher. She instilled a sense of hunger in her students. I have really enjoyed getting to know Ms. Evans even after I have graduated. Ms. Evans, thank you for believing in me and thank you for always having a kind word to say. You are the salt of the Earth, and one of the best people that I have met. Thank you.
Bobby Boyd: Mr. Boyd was my sophomore math teacher. I actually had Mr. Boyd a couple of years after I scored “Limited Knowledge” on my Algebra I EOI (I went on to teach Algebra I, by the way). After having Mr. Boyd, I passed both the Algebra I and Algebra II EOI tests. Mr. Boyd and I have continued to have communication since I left high school. He is always a person that put up with my obsessive talking, joking, and absences. He is a teacher that would never lose his temper, and always displayed kindness. Years before he had me in class he was my older brother’s cross country coach. When my brother died unexpectedly, while I was in college, I was a wreck. There were few people that I felt a comforting feeling around. After my brother’s wake, I walked to the back of the funeral home lobby shaking hands and pushing fake smiles through my teeth… until I saw Mr. Boyd. I started crying. He looked at me, hugged me, and said, “You’ve always said that you looked up to me, but the truth is that I look up to you. I am so proud of you.” I truly believe that God used Mr. Boyd to speak those words to me. I needed to hear those words. Mr. Boyd, thank you for your continued friendship. Thank you for always caring what is going on when I see you. Thank you for your words of affirmation.
With all of that being said, if you take into account Dr. Barresi’s view of hierarchal importance…these teachers failed. They failed at believing that my test scores, grades, and quantitative data would define me as a person. They failed at making me feel that I needed to pass tests to prove my worth and potential. They failed to confine me to a box of data. I am thankful that they failed. For all of you teachers that are contemplating leaving the profession because of continued “reform”, don’t forget that you are speaking life into youth. As my principal told his staff on Friday, “We are in the people business. We are in the kid business. We are in the kid development business. If you focus on that first, the test scores will come”.
Relationships are critical.
My amazing and outstanding wife has a Donor Choose project that I would be grateful for donations of any amount. You can access this project: right here!