“I know my teacher loved me because she gave me a dozen donuts, just for me. Oh! And a full bag of hot fries,” Mikelous said with his endearing, face-full smile.
“Yeah, she did love us,” Shamika chimed in. I asked, “How did you know that Mrs. Herlihy loved you?” The freshman answered quickly, “Because she was just nice and kind. I could tell it in her face.”
We didn’t get a lot of reading done for those fifteen minutes or so as the two former students of Arnold Magnet Academy went on and on about their “favorite teacher of all time,” Mrs. Troy Herlihy. Story after story about how much she loved her students poured from their lips, until I realized that stopping them and getting back to our lesson maybe wasn’t as important as granting them the opportunity to remember their impactful teacher. So, I just closed my book and listened.
At one point Mikelous slumped back in his chair, arms folded, a slighter smile of his face, like an old man as he reminisced about the good ole days. He sighed and said, “I miss her. I wish I could go back to Arnold and see Mrs. Herlihy.” Shamika simply said, “Me, too.”
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I enjoyed hearing my students speak so fondly of a teacher who obviously taught them more than just Social Studies. Mrs. Herlihy must have devoted a fair amount of her time showing her students how to be loved, and their testimonials made my heart smile. They also made me want to run over to Arnold Magnet Academy and get a dose myself.
Their share time was prompted by my feeble attempts to encourage one of their reluctant classmates to do a little work. As I wrapped up my sermon on seizing the opportunities a quality education affords, I guess Mikelous picked up on the dejection displayed on my disheartened face. He said, “You remind me of Mrs. Herlihy.” Of course, I asked why, and he responded, “Because you almost crying over there talking to him about his future.”
Guilty as charged. I did have tears in my eyes. I said, “Yeah, because he’s mine, and I care about him. Just like I care about all you guys.” He said, “That’s why you is like Mrs. Herlihy,” to quote Mikelous directly.
That’s when Mikelous and Shamika proceeded to catalog time after time when Mrs. Herlihy was way more than a teacher to them: when she was their good-grade-cheerleader, their bad-times-encourager, their at-school-momma, their need-meeter, their hot-fry-provider, their love-tank-filler.
And Mikelous said, “You remind me a lot of Mrs. Herlihy.” If only I could be half the caring teacher Mrs. Herlihy is.
See, some teachers are those gems hidden beneath the hardness of a cold world focused on the bad, the ugly, the negative. Some teachers are the treasures buried under the mass of misguided perceptions of what is important and what should be valued. And some teachers are the jewels loving our kids despite ourselves. And that makes all the difference.
If only we could be half the caring person Mrs. Herlihy is. Imagine.