Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having lunch with this wonderful group of women. These women are intelligent, kind, funny, brave, strong, independent, and amazing. Who are they? For many years they were my colleagues, teaching alongside me. Along the way, we became friends. Today, all but one is retired. They were there when I was getting started as a teacher. They were the “experienced” ones and I was the new teacher.
Coincidentally, later that afternoon I was scheduled to welcome the new staff to our district. One of the reasons I felt compelled to volunteer to greet our new staff was because of these ladies. I wanted to give back what they had given me. These women played such an important role in shaping me as a educator and human being. They were the veterans and experienced ones. This year, I will be the “veteran” teacher in my school and I hope I am able to do for others what was done for me. They taught me what it means to be a teacher by their words and more importantly by their actions. I was blessed to have such wonderful role models and guides. Each one taught me something special and unique. They weren’t assigned to be my mentors, but they “took me under their wings” and contributed a piece to my puzzle. I learned so many things from my unofficial mentors – organization, parent communication, classroom management, interacting with peers, standing up for myself, identifying learning problems. pacing my lessons, connecting with students, loving my job – the list goes on. They helped me develop my core values and beliefs about teaching and learning. They taught me the importance of asking questions, getting involved, showing confidence, and respecting others. They celebrated my successes and stood by me in difficult times. I learned that a good teacher is first a good person. I learned a good teacher is always a learner and lover of knowledge. I learned that if I did what was in the best interest of my students, I was making the right decision. So today, I say thank you to the “retired” teachers. Thank you for sharing the best of you with me. Thank you for making me the teacher I am today!