Teachers are superheroes and here’s how I know: they teach us to read, explore, love books and life, be helpful—the list of what they do is long and distinguished. They are some of the most powerful people on earth and that’s a fact.
What brought this to mind is my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Hazel Holt Tucker, died last week and I was immediately transported to 1965 or 1966, when she was the meanest teacher I’d ever had. She was just beginning her long career and she had fifth and sixth graders together.
She said I talked all the time, and I got a whipping almost every day because of it. She’d leave the room and have one of the sixth graders take names and report back. Somehow my name always ended up on the list, but between the whippings we did plays, she read to us, taught us funny songs and speeches, and told us tales of far-off places. Whenever I watch Jeopardy! and get a correct answer, it’s usually something I remember from fifth grade.
She and her classroom are among my favorite and most memorable. Over the past 55 years I’ve told her how her love, care, and great expectations influenced the woman, professor, and mentor I became. I loved and admired her immensely and her death reminded me how precious teachers are in the grand scheme of things.
While the controversy continues around whether to mask children and teachers, we must do more to keep both groups alive and safe. As this school year began, teachers were afraid to enter their classrooms and do what they’ve been called to do—inspire, coax, see beyond the fidgeting and shyness, and watch us become bright lights.
Almost every locale has students and teachers in quarantine because of COVID, and some have died. This loss of energy, enthusiasm, love and care those teachers would have poured on our children has been lost and cannot be replaced.
Whenever I find young people who want to become teachers, I applaud and encourage them in every way because all children deserve an enthusiastic, imaginative, well-trained teacher who believes they’re probably the most intelligent student they’ve ever had.
The power here comes because we believe every word they say.
When our son started school, I had to have a long talk with his teacher, Miss Debra, because everything I said, he’d reply with “Miss Debra said do it this way.” Of course, Miss Debra was always right. My favorite plaque reads “To teach is to touch a life forever,” and no truer words have ever been spoken.
Dr. William Ray Mofield, one of my professors at Murray State University, made me believe that my words and insights would save the world. I still intend to do that every time I sit at my computer. As somebody who read dozens of newspapers daily and could tell you what happened on any day in any year, I loved, treasured, and believed him.
Today as our children and students struggle with learning remotely, and in every context, pause and say a special thank you to them and the Mrs. Tuckers of the world. Send a sweet note, make a phone call, or like Brett, one of my former students from 20 years ago, send chocolate chip cookies.
Teachers and children are two of our most precious entities—pray for and support their safety and continue to pray for last week’s storm victims, and families who’ve been displaced because of power outages, floods, war, fires, evacuations, evictions, and disaster. Lend a hand too, where and when you can.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.