Remembering Mr. “R”

Most of the teachers I had were good teachers. My parents were very wise, and when they didn’t like one of my teachers, they didn’t let on. They taught me to respect my teachers. In a couple of situations when I had a bad teacher, I just had to work hard and try to get through the class the best I could. My parents helped me when they could, but when I almost failed trigonometry, they couldn’t do much to help me with my homework!

Fortunately, most of my teachers were very good at their job. It’s probably why I went on to become a teacher myself. Several years ago, I wrote this essay about a teacher I had in 7th grade, and I’m sharing it with you again.


I had this teacher once. Mr. “R” was not considered a “cool” teacher. He didn’t play favorites. He taught. He showed me how to find the various innards of an earthworm, taught me math and literature, and instructed me in the fine arts. I learned about pointillism and ringing handbells. He also insisted that if we didn’t get something right, we had to try again until we did get it right. When I went up to his desk to ask him a question, he would look at me as if I should already know the answer. I was probably supposed to know the answer, but I had been daydreaming when he had given us directions. Mr. “R” was a tough teacher, which made him a good teacher. Strict, yet kind.

Mr. “R” was also the church musician and so years after I had Mr. “R” as a teacher, he was my choir director. I was able to get to know him as an adult. I always had fun rehearsing with Mr. “R”!

I still play in the handbell choir at church.
I still play in the handbell choir at church.

It was during this time that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While I valued all the cards and letters I received, I especially treasured the letters Mr. “R” sent me. “The news of your health has haunted me for these past few days…” he wrote in his beautiful script, the same handwriting I had read long before on the papers he had graded. “Along with depressed moments during these dark days ‘have no anxiety about anything…’ Philippians 4:6.” His kind words encouraged me and gave me hope.

A few years ago, Mr. “R” passed away from cancer himself. I have kept his letters in my “cancer scrapbook,” and they bring back fond memories of him. I wonder, did he know how much his letters meant to me?

And so, Mr. “R”, I send you a much belated “Thank You” for so much encouragement during a dark time in my life. You are an inspiration to me as I strive to encourage other women who are in similar situations. I just hope I can be as encouraging to them as you were to me.

“But encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13


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Week of May 25: Kicking Off Summer! Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer! Write your summer bucket list; tell us about a vacation you’re looking forward to; recommend some summer books to read.

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Why Teachers Teach {Spin Cycle}

This past Wednesday, after leading them in several songs about days of the week, the weather, and Alice the camel, my co-teachers and I shook the hands of 20 preschoolers and pronounced them ready for Kindergarten! At the end of the graduation ceremony, we all sang the song we sing at the end of every preschool session:

For Grace Preschool is over,
And we are going home.
Goodbye, goodbye,
Be always kind and good.
Goodbye, goodbye,
Be always kind and good.

When my daughters sang this song at the end of their preschool graduations, I couldn’t help but cry. A new phase of their lives was beginning, and while I was happy that they were growing up, a part of me was sad that their preschool years were over. They were going to full day Kindergarten in the fall, and I was going to miss them! How was I going to fill my days while my little girls were at school?

The answer, as you know, was teaching at the same preschool they had attended. Teaching preschool is very different from teaching 2nd grade, as I did for thirteen years before Lily was born. I have found a passion for early childhood education that I didn’t know I possessed. I always used to say I didn’t want to teach children younger than second graders. Now I teach three and four year olds. While it can be challenging (my aunt told me teaching three year olds is like herding cats), it is also rewarding.

apple print

A couple of my blogging friends have written about their little ones graduating from preschool, and after I read Tamara’s post about her little one, I wrote this comment: I’m expecting lots of tears from parents tonight at our preschool graduation! I might even tear up, and I’m just their teacher.  I’ve taught most of the kids for two years, and I wish I could follow them to Kindergarten! Most of the them are going to the same school as my kids, so I will get to see them every once in a while. That makes me happy.

Tamara, who has a very big, soft and squishy heart, replied back: I can’t imagine being a teacher – seeing kids come and go, but getting close with a whole new class every fall. Ah, this cycle. It was hard for me as a kid. It’s a lot harder for me as a parent.

It is hard. This year, I taught the same group of kids five days a week. Over the past two years, I’ve seen them grow taller, learn how to share, and taught them how to write their names. I’ve seen them learn amazing skills on their own through exploratory play, seen their imaginations flourish, and made them laugh by singing silly songs. It’s hard to say goodbye.

recycled flowers

It’s time, however. They are ready. Every single one of my students is Kindergarten ready. I am so proud of them, and am happy to see them fly away from their preschool home. Next fall, the cycle will start all over again, and it’s one of the things I love about my job. The fresh, new faces, the different personalities, and a chance to teach again.

This week, I volunteered at my daughters’ school for Field Day. A second grader said hello to me and I hardly recognized her. She was so tall and her baby face was gone. It’s been three years since I had her in my class, and it was so fun to see her again. I saw several other former students that day. We hula hooped together and played “Mr. Fox” and then I sent them on to the next activity. They had been happy to see me, but they were even more excited about moving on; about graduating to the next station.

They ran so fast they just about flew.

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