Thanks for the Memories
(a.k.a. – A Gift from God)
People love to collect things. Some collect rare coins, art, or antiques. I’ve been a collector for 26 years, gathering precious pieces during my years as a classroom teacher. It’s nothing fancy, an odd assortment of greeting cards, thank you notes, poems, and pictures – memories of students and our time together. I call it my “Warm and Fuzzy” file. Each item has meaning. A few are particularly memorable.
One remarkable piece is a picture drawn by a third grade boy some years ago. He presented it to me first thing one morning with a wry smile and said, “Ms. Thews, this was you yesterday.” I curiously took the paper, unfolding it. Moments later, I was howling with laughter. I was drawn with “angry” eyebrows, lines at a 45o angle above my eyes. It was 100% accurate; the previous day had not been easy. Due to a strong student/teacher rapport, this little guy was confident his picture would ultimately bring me joy. He was right. That drawing is in my special file.
Building positive relationships, like the one above, requires time. This was especially true for my bilingual students in Taiwan. Our first year together, they weren’t sure what to make of their American teacher. My instructional methods, classroom management, and expectations were far different than their previous school experiences. Trust grew slowly. By the second year, we understood one another’s personalities, the strengths and struggles. There was genuine respect. Year three was extraordinary. We shared true respect, genuine affection, and forgiveness that I’ve experienced with only a handful of classes.
During the last week of school, we began each day lamenting that it was our last Monday, Tuesday, and so on. Throughout the week, students would shyly bring me something special. A card, flowers, tea, pictures, and finally, a canvas tote bag with hand drawn images of each student so I would always remember them. Our bilingual program has concluded, and the students will move on to the CMS senior high school. I’ll still see them around campus, but I won’t be teaching any of their courses. While I’ll miss them like crazy, I’m thankful for the memories! They’re a gift from God. They’ll always be in my heart and my warm and fuzzy file.