Monday, June 6, 2011

What Dreams May Come

“What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil?”

courtesy of
This is from Hamlet, and is one of the few lines I can remember from high school English class.  It was an enigmatic line to me then, being all of fifteen years old, and having seen little of life or death.

Now, of course, that has changed.  Life and death—those are much more real to me.  You might be expecting me to expound on death and how it surrounds us all.  Nah, I want to share dreams of life with you.

I taught first through eighth grades over a twenty year span.  I restarted my teaching career when my youngest child began second grade.  By that time, I was almost 37 years old, with a load of life experiences in my backpack that most of the younger teachers could not have had.  My first class was a fourth grade class whose teacher had to take sick-leave mid-year.  Up to the time I came, there had been 18/eighteen different substitute teachers who went and left after one day. 

It was a rough class, a broken class.  More than that, it was a group of 10-11 year old children who felt abandoned in the one safe place where they could count on being cared for and taught what they needed to know. 

Not an endorsement--but it looks good.
God knows what we all need, and He certainly knew what these children needed: someone to love them, to slug it through, to stay the course with them. 

To say that we endured and came out winners would be too light-hearted.  It was a struggle, almost mental hand-to-hand combat.  Each child had their own issues of pain, divorce, poverty, gang-pressure, and abandonment from home.  They needed—no, they absolutely were desperate for someone to hold onto and to show them the door to a better world. 

Teachers must be warriors for their students.  I was a soft mother type, who made quilts and baked brownies, who taught Sunday school and played the church piano.  But I was also a tenacious and stubborn woman, who saw into the hearts of these hurting kids.  It was a daily test for all of us, and in the end, we were drawn together.  On the last day of school, we were all teary eyed to see school end and our relationship to change. 

Months before, I had entered that classroom as their adversary, another teacher whom they thought would leave them.  My promise was that I was staying, and they were not going to be left with someone else.  I kept my promise. 

Now, I have dreams of my students, over 600 of them, in different situations with me as their teacher.  Sometimes I am driving a bus on a field trip along a crazy Bolivian mountain road.  Sometimes we are in a classroom put together in a bombed out bunker.  In other dreams, teacher friends and I are going to somewhere like Haiti to set up classes for other abandoned children. 

Dreams indeed. 


  1. Lovely post. One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that legacy of knowing you may have helped or inspired some fraction of the students who came your way.

  2. I love that line "teachers must be warriors for their students." I so enjoyed reading this. It inspires me to be a better mother and teacher to my children.

  3. I hope my young grandson who is starting sr k in the fall will have a "warrior" teacher. He'll need one.

  4. An inspirational post and fine example for all teachers to follow!

    Ellie Garratt

  5. Teachers are heroes. Where would we all be without these underpreciated worriors.

    I did it for 9 years as a pre-school teacher and that was the most rewarding (not monetary) job I ever had.

  6. My sister teaches special needs kids in a very poor side of town. I can't believe some of the stories she tells me - they are heartbreaking. I could never have all of the virtues it requires to be a teacher.

  7. I only hope my daughter has at least one teacher like you!


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