There are times in life when the words “thank you” fall woefully short. Because really, how do I begin to thank the people who have poured out their lives for a year for my family? How do I end a year with women who have not only taught letters and numbers and cursive and history to my children, but who have become friends to me? How do I say goodbye to the frequency and the laughs and the tears and the partnership of people who one year ago I didn’t know, but who over 9 months have become family?
I couldn’t bake enough gluten-free goods for Mrs Drake even though I think we might have nearly annoyed her with what felt like all-too-frequent deliveries on random afternoons to her house just down the street. Taking her crepes and coconut cake and strawberry shortcake reminded me of visits to see Mrs Abernathy, my third grade teacher, who lived about as far from us growing up. I remember the English furniture in her foyer and the wood paneling in her den…and I remembered that she was so pleased to see us every time we visited and I think perhaps she always had lemon squares just for us…or at least the time it seemed that way I remembered it forever. We over-visit Mrs Drake down the street because every time I try a new recipe, my kindergartner wants to share with his teacher. And I just can’t deny him his own Mrs. Abernathy kind of life-long memory. I too will remember Mrs Drake forever. And Mrs Drake, Hudson will remember you forever too. I hardly even want to use the word “remember”…because I truly feel a word that encapsulates the investment you’ve made is far more along the lines of “unforgettable”than simply remembering. How do I thank you? For having faith in a little boy who wanted so badly to read and learn his letters and make good friends? How do I thank you for pouring out of yourself and in to my baby and shaping this piece of his life to make him the man he will become? “Thank you”….it’s insufficient to cover the donation you have made of your life. Yet, I know no flower or gift card that can begin to touch the depth of my gratitude, and I’m left with only words and knowledge that you have solidified a place in all of our hearts. It doesn’t feel enough, yet somehow I hope it can be.
And Mrs Batson…to feel my little boy squeeze my hand in church and point ahead to show me that YOU are there a few rows ahead…priceless. Just tonight I asked him how he felt about leaving you all and he said “I’m gonna miss them. They really love me. And Mrs Batson, she just loves everybody like crazy.” I told him to love so big and wide and for so many years with so many people takes a super special kind of person. “I guess she’s that kind of person then” he said. He is six…and I’m glad he’s learning that kind of love and having your brand of example now. Thank you for showing him. Thank you for catching my eye and holding it the other week when I was leaving after coming for lunch and we both watched him trip and fall and hold still and say nothing while all the girls stopped to see if he was ok. We both held our breath because even 20 feet apart we both knew he was doing all his six year old little self could do not to cry right there in front of all those girls. We both froze and then you ushered the girls inside and we both sighed when he stood up and miraculously brushed it off. THANK YOU for being that kind of person…who sees souls through eyes hidden behind transition lenses perched on a small nose. Thank you for encouraging him when he said at Thanksgiving that he was thankful for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for knowing that our family welcomes Jesus in school blatantly with our own kid and we appreciate you knowing that and encouraging his tender spirit in that way. But thank you too for being those dear hands and feet with your generous love…even without words of a Savior in schools…for all of the other kids in your classroom too. Thank you for knowing…and for loving…and for being that special kind of person that my son sees as clearly as his parents do.
And Ms McKnight…I joke that I want to hang out and get a glass of wine with you because it’s just not every day that you find a peer kind of friend in your kids’ teacher. To see qualities I adore in a person who’s close to my own age and I just find myself thinking….”I just LOVE her! I wish we were hang-out friends!” You see the potential in our son and you don’t let him lazy his way out of what you know is possible. You stoke the flames of his curiosity in books and science and history. He delights in learning because of the way you make it engaging. He has learned the payoff of working hard and even persevering through tough situations with difficult people. You have encouraged him to be kind and generous and helpful but have made way for him to be strong and leading and smart. Thank you for opening the world to him and for encouraging him to explore on his own. Last weekend he found a turtle shell while he was kayaking at the lake and the first person he wanted to show was you. When we found the nest of a Carolina wren in our bluebird house, he wanted to put it in a bag to take to school for your collection. “Mom, can we keep Toothless, the bearded dragon, over break? All we have to do is feed him cockroaches and stuff.” he asked nearly every time. And even though I didn’t want dragons and cockroaches in our house, I want you to know that it has never been lost on me that your willingness to house creatures like this in your classrooom stoke an interest in the world around us that the students just might not have the same way otherwise. And for when we went to China in the middle of the school year for my brothers’ wedding and the work piled up and so did the hours of jetlag, thank you for your grace as my little guy adjusted back to all of it. You are fun and spunky and clever and have been a delight to have in our lives. How about we grab that glass now…or dinner? What do you say to being my hang-out friend? Truly, a million thank yous. I’m not sure that we could ever gift enough turtle shells and bird nests to add up to the value of impact you have made.
And I know what it is to teach children…or at least my own. Because one year of homeschool showed me the heartache and passion and preparation that go into this role. And I only had to teach two. You all, you teach hundreds of personalities and problems and people over the years. You facilitate learning and curiosity and you mediate disputes and manage parents who helicopter and stand in the gap with ones who don’t. You are a hero and the sacrifices you’ve made of your time and yourselves will live on in the generations you shape. If this next generation of children can possess even half of the qualities I’ve seen in each of you, then I have no doubt that our country will thrive long into the future.
Thank you. A million thank you’s to the teachers of my own children and to the ones all around the world. As Willy Wonka says, “we are the music makers, and the dreamers of dreams.” Thank you for leading the charge that will shape the world.