Characterizing Students


The retired teacher scrolls through the back-to-school photos currently on social media, smiling back at the scrubbed faces; excited, well, in most cases excited, smiles; first-day outfits; heavy backpacks! After having taught high school and college for 35 years, she pauses to think of hundreds of her former students. The memories form a sweetness akin to the corn she freezes today.


Those students from her first days substituting in inner-city Little Rock and then teaching in Pulaski County, Arkansas, will turn 60 before this school year ends! 

Luther’s impish grin captured her heart. He was the reason she started having students put their names on the back of their compositions! Otherwise she would have graded Luther’s papers by always giving him the benefit of any doubt.

Keeping the students seated when many saw their first snow falling  in December proved challenging, as did removing a switchblade from a student in choir class! 
The only students who caused her distress were the ones who got defensive immediately, while a word or idea had just left another’s mouth. When a short story mentioned blue grass in Kentucky, insurrection nearly exploded! “Ain’t no such thing,” uttered several freshmen! When she asked who had been outside of Arkansas, not one of the 125 students’ hands went up! Sadly, more than one student took issue with Neil Armstrong’s moon walk in 1969, claiming the site was a place in Arizona or New Mexico because the Bible taught there were  four corners of the earth. Rev. 7:1

Credit NASA
As the political rhetoric of 2016 continues to broil, this retired educator prays for wisdom, the ability to hear from many, and not just knee jerk an immediate, defensive response. See, those teaching memories can still instruct the instructor!

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