Tag Archives: teaching

Remembering Mr. “R”

Most of the teachers I had were good teachers. My parents were very wise, and when they didn’t like one of my teachers, they didn’t let on. They taught me to respect my teachers. In a couple of situations when I had a bad teacher, I just had to work hard and try to get through the class the best I could. My parents helped me when they could, but when I almost failed trigonometry, they couldn’t do much to help me with my homework!

Fortunately, most of my teachers were very good at their job. It’s probably why I went on to become a teacher myself. Several years ago, I wrote this essay about a teacher I had in 7th grade, and I’m sharing it with you again.


I had this teacher once. Mr. “R” was not considered a “cool” teacher. He didn’t play favorites. He taught. He showed me how to find the various innards of an earthworm, taught me math and literature, and instructed me in the fine arts. I learned about pointillism and ringing handbells. He also insisted that if we didn’t get something right, we had to try again until we did get it right. When I went up to his desk to ask him a question, he would look at me as if I should already know the answer. I was probably supposed to know the answer, but I had been daydreaming when he had given us directions. Mr. “R” was a tough teacher, which made him a good teacher. Strict, yet kind.

Mr. “R” was also the church musician and so years after I had Mr. “R” as a teacher, he was my choir director. I was able to get to know him as an adult. I always had fun rehearsing with Mr. “R”!

I still play in the handbell choir at church.
I still play in the handbell choir at church.

It was during this time that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While I valued all the cards and letters I received, I especially treasured the letters Mr. “R” sent me. “The news of your health has haunted me for these past few days…” he wrote in his beautiful script, the same handwriting I had read long before on the papers he had graded. “Along with depressed moments during these dark days ‘have no anxiety about anything…’ Philippians 4:6.” His kind words encouraged me and gave me hope.

A few years ago, Mr. “R” passed away from cancer himself. I have kept his letters in my “cancer scrapbook,” and they bring back fond memories of him. I wonder, did he know how much his letters meant to me?

And so, Mr. “R”, I send you a much belated “Thank You” for so much encouragement during a dark time in my life. You are an inspiration to me as I strive to encourage other women who are in similar situations. I just hope I can be as encouraging to them as you were to me.

“But encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13


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Coming up on The Spin Cycle:

Week of May 25: Kicking Off Summer! Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer! Write your summer bucket list; tell us about a vacation you’re looking forward to; recommend some summer books to read.

Week of June 1: Summer Reruns During the summer months, most television shows are reruns. Share some of your favorite TV shows that you love watching, even in reruns OR “rerun” one of your favorite blog posts from the past!


Why Teachers Teach {Spin Cycle}

This past Wednesday, after leading them in several songs about days of the week, the weather, and Alice the camel, my co-teachers and I shook the hands of 20 preschoolers and pronounced them ready for Kindergarten! At the end of the graduation ceremony, we all sang the song we sing at the end of every preschool session:

For Grace Preschool is over,
And we are going home.
Goodbye, goodbye,
Be always kind and good.
Goodbye, goodbye,
Be always kind and good.

When my daughters sang this song at the end of their preschool graduations, I couldn’t help but cry. A new phase of their lives was beginning, and while I was happy that they were growing up, a part of me was sad that their preschool years were over. They were going to full day Kindergarten in the fall, and I was going to miss them! How was I going to fill my days while my little girls were at school?

The answer, as you know, was teaching at the same preschool they had attended. Teaching preschool is very different from teaching 2nd grade, as I did for thirteen years before Lily was born. I have found a passion for early childhood education that I didn’t know I possessed. I always used to say I didn’t want to teach children younger than second graders. Now I teach three and four year olds. While it can be challenging (my aunt told me teaching three year olds is like herding cats), it is also rewarding.

apple print

A couple of my blogging friends have written about their little ones graduating from preschool, and after I read Tamara’s post about her little one, I wrote this comment: I’m expecting lots of tears from parents tonight at our preschool graduation! I might even tear up, and I’m just their teacher.  I’ve taught most of the kids for two years, and I wish I could follow them to Kindergarten! Most of the them are going to the same school as my kids, so I will get to see them every once in a while. That makes me happy.

Tamara, who has a very big, soft and squishy heart, replied back: I can’t imagine being a teacher – seeing kids come and go, but getting close with a whole new class every fall. Ah, this cycle. It was hard for me as a kid. It’s a lot harder for me as a parent.

It is hard. This year, I taught the same group of kids five days a week. Over the past two years, I’ve seen them grow taller, learn how to share, and taught them how to write their names. I’ve seen them learn amazing skills on their own through exploratory play, seen their imaginations flourish, and made them laugh by singing silly songs. It’s hard to say goodbye.

recycled flowers

It’s time, however. They are ready. Every single one of my students is Kindergarten ready. I am so proud of them, and am happy to see them fly away from their preschool home. Next fall, the cycle will start all over again, and it’s one of the things I love about my job. The fresh, new faces, the different personalities, and a chance to teach again.

This week, I volunteered at my daughters’ school for Field Day. A second grader said hello to me and I hardly recognized her. She was so tall and her baby face was gone. It’s been three years since I had her in my class, and it was so fun to see her again. I saw several other former students that day. We hula hooped together and played “Mr. Fox” and then I sent them on to the next activity. They had been happy to see me, but they were even more excited about moving on; about graduating to the next station.

They ran so fast they just about flew.

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Ed started apologizing for the tulips he was carrying before he even sat down next to me. “Emmy picked them out, and as we were walking out of the store I remembered you’re allergic to them,” he said.

“Honestly,” I replied, “I really didn’t remember that. I think I’ll be fine.” We settled down together to watch Lily’s ballet recital that afternoon, and she would be the recipient of the tulips after the show.

Tulips (2)

Many years ago, I was a young student teacher in a middle school resource room. My cooperating teacher was amazing, and I loved teaching those kids. Dennis was a boy I particularly remember. He was in sixth grade, and yet he was fourteen since he had been held back a couple of times. He was shy and quiet, and acted younger than his fourteen years. Every morning, it became his habit to bring me a tulip. The bottom of the stem would be rough and ragged where he had torn it off. Hoping that Dennis had not stolen the tulip from the neighbors, I always placed it in a cup of water and kept it in the middle of the table where I spent most of my day working with small groups. I began to notice a pattern; I would feel fine in the evenings and early morning, but as soon as I started teaching my nose would run like crazy. It didn’t take long to make the connection between the tulip and the sneezing.

I kept that connection to myself, and Dennis continued to bring me a tulip each morning. On the last day of student teaching, I held back the tears until I made it to the car. I learned so much about teaching that semester, and would miss the teacher and students I worked with. After graduation, I found a job and worked with many, many students in the years to come. Remembering all the students I taught makes me smile–and I have a special fondness for the boy who brought me tulips.


First Day of School, But Not For Me

So far, I’ve been full of anticipation. Full of ideas and excited to get some project accomplished. However, this morning I woke up early, anxious and unable to fall back to sleep.

Today is the day. My baby starts Kindergarten full time today.

First Day of Kindergarten

On Monday, I went to school with her and sat in a 45 minute orientation with her by my side.

On Tuesday, I dropped her off at 8:45 and picked her up at lunchtime. She was in school just a little longer than she would have been at preschool.

Today, I will take her to school at 8:45. In one hand, she will be holding her big sister’s hand. In her other hand, she will be holding her lunchbox. I will pick them both up at 3:30 after a long, long day at home. Alone.

Oh, I know I was all full of bravado in my last post, talking about how I’m going to stay busy and how I’m ready for the girls to go back to school.

Today, I feel left behind. The beginning of the school year always makes me feel this way. I see a classroom, ready for students, and I remember my former life. My life when the beginning of the school year was my favorite time of the year. The new books and pencils, the white sheets of paper and smell of new crayons, the new faces crowding the classroom, nervous and excited all at the same time. Emmy’s teacher has a new smart board, and I am so jealous. Teachers in elementary schools didn’t have smart boards when I left teaching.

I know I made that choice all those years ago (not that long ago, really) to stay at home with my baby and give up my dream job. The job I had gone to school for; the job that I worked at for thirteen years; the job I felt was an occupation, not just a job. The job that gave me the title of teacher.

I’ve been out of teaching for so many years that new friends and neighbors don’t think of me as a teacher. I’m Lily and Emmy’s mom, which I am very proud to be. And I’m really being unfair to the preschool where I teach. I’m a teacher to them, for about 5 hours a week. Although this gig is mostly unpaid, I suppose I can also call myself a blogger and a writer.

The sun has been slowly lightening the sky as my fingers have been typing, getting out all my mixed-up feelings. It’s one of the reasons I love blogging; it helps me to untangle my thoughts. In just a few minutes, I need to start making breakfast and lunches; getting out clean clothes and making sure hair is brushed and beds are made.

Then I’ll kiss my two girls goodbye, and get started on all those projects. I’ll let you know how it goes.

First Day of School

How are you feeling today?


Apples and Sunflowers {Simple Moment, Bigger Picture}

A small bag of apples, freshly picked. A giant sunflower, on a long stem.

Simple gifts.

Wonderful gifts.

It is gifts like these that are a reminder of what a joy teaching can be.

Gifts like sunflowers and apples,

hugs and squeezes.

Gifts like pictures drawn, just for me.

Little reminders of the reasons I became a teacher.

Simple BPM

I love apples and sunflowers: click here to read another post named apples and sunflowers!

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