God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. (Isaiah 50:4a)
I always write for “teachers’ appreciation week”
and this was certainly a year
when being a teacher was dangerous,
required acrobatic flexibility,
and was exposed to more-than-every-year
unwarranted parental verbal abuse.
But this year my assignment is late,
because every word I write
transforms into hours of memories
of particular teachers,
the odd and motley crew
that changed my life …
Her husband died by suicide
but a teacher came back to school,
not needing to teach history well,
because she taught us
how we could keep on going.
In seventh-grade geography
he kept us all afternoon long
till we could find our road through
a president’s assassination.
A Latin teacher
helped us love something ‘useless’
when we hankered after Fortran.
Another didn’t teach anything
that I wanted to study,
but volunteered to be the debate coach
so I could get out of town
for weekend tournaments
and no one knew I had no dates.
A PE teacher in grade school
helped me accept those thick glasses,
and laugh at clumsiness
of early height and weight
and a musician has first chair in heaven
just because he sat in a room
with me and a violin.
To set the record straight,
I was never tardy, my exams were solid,
my assignments were rarely late
and rarely brilliant –
not much reason to notice me
but, every time I was weary,
or lost or didn’t want to go home,
someone was there to speak the word
that reminded me
how very valuable I am.