It’s one thing to dread returning to a job you hate.
But I always thought it was a mistake to teach our kids to dread school like we might dread work. They should be excited, or stay excited the way they are when they are little.
Because the secret of going to school is the payoff later on in life. School is like getting a present that you can’t open for several years. By the time most of us “open” it, we are so far past our schooldays that we might never remember to say thank you.
So, let me say it now.
I can remember every teacher I had in elementary school, and I’m grateful to each one.
My kindergarten teacher, Miss Jedlicka, taught me to be an individual, not to follow.
My first-grade teacher, Miss Parsons, taught me to finish what I started.
My second-grade teacher, Miss Black—well, she’s a whole separate discussion. Best. Teacher. Ever. Taught me many life lessons, and even taught my mom something. I was a slug in the mornings, and my mother struggled to get me out the door on time. When she told Miss Black, this veteran educator’s response surprised her: “Let him be late. You have to start letting him fall, or he won’t know how to get back up and solve problems.”
Guess who did some falling?
My third grade teacher, Mrs. Stewart, taught me to ignore bullying.
My fourth grade teacher, Miss Daglis, taught me to follow up on my interests and read more.
My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Schucart, taught me to be organized and use time better.
My sixth grade teacher, Miss. Weber, taught me to do more than the minimum, because pushing yourself feels better than getting by.
This week, teachers, most of whom love children, and children, many of whom have learned to hate school, are on a collision course.
Some of those teachers are so discouraged that they may retire early, or switch careers, or just endure.
Some of those children will refuse to learn, or be unable to.
But more often than we think, lessons will inspire and touch.
Some of those lessons will not be unpacked until later. Maybe much later.
But it’s never too late to say thank you and we love you.
Which is a whole other lesson.