I've not done anything like this before, but I am going to create a post everyday this week. I would like to take the week to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. I may take a slightly different bent though as not all of those I celebrate were necessarily teachers, but people who have taught me so much in my life.
However the first person I would like to celebrate was one of my teachers. It was the beginning of my 5th grade year, so late August, early September 1969. Two weeks previously, the day after my 10th birthday, my father passed away from a lingering illness. Struggling to figure out what was going on and what my life was going to be like I certainly did not want to go to school.
I had always loved school and been a good student, but I knew I was different now and I didn't want to be the different one at school. So I didn't want to go. I told my mom, that I was not going to go to school and that she could not make me, which of course she could, and did. She did convince me though that I should go and meet my teacher. I didn't know it at the time, but she had contacted the school and the teacher about the situation.
Mrs. Anona Leishman was in her second year of teaching when this 10 year old lost kid was brought into the classroom by his mother. She immediately made me feel so welcome and comfortable, that I lost my apprehension about going to school. When I struggled, especially the first few weeks, she put her arms around me and told me that she understood and asked what she could do to help. Things got easier, but her caring never waned. That year ended up being a great year for me in school. Probably my favorite year ever. That is probably why some 20 years later, I settled on fifth grade as the grade I really wanted to teach.
You hear stories from teachers often about inspirational teachers they had and how they may or may not have had an opportunity to thank those teachers. I was fortunate enough to be able to live near Mrs. Leishman as she was winding down her career. I often expressed to her how grateful I was for that year and what an influence she had been on my life.
Her example was not directly responsible for me going into education, but when I did I always tried to show the same compassion and kindness this great woman showed to me that year.
Mrs. Leishman passed away about 3 years ago. That was really hard for me. My wife and I both felt very close to her and I still miss her to this day. Her compassion for me never ended. I love visiting with her husband and having him share stories about her. The stories are not surprising because most of them mirror my experience with her. She had an impact on hundreds of students. I will always be grateful for that year and for the friendship we had together through the years.
Thank you Mrs. Leishman!