The Rewards of Teaching
Many of you know I used to teach in the public schools, albeit for only two years. There are things about it I miss (my students). I have a number of reasons for wanting to go back at times (82 to be exact). I know I made the right decision to leave, but there are 82 faces who are growing older and nearing the end of their elementary years. My memories of my first and second grade teachers are vague. I remember isolated incidents...Anthony who sat next to me and would kick me and then tell the teacher I kicked him, landing me in the hall again. Danny who ate paste. The day I colored a house with windows and a door to make it look like it was smiling. I was crushed when Mrs. Alvear leaned over and said, "Houses don't look like that."

When I went into teaching, I had visions of becoming an institution. To have been around so long that all the students knew me, even if they didn't have classes with me. To have the advantage of catching up with students in the hallway, attending their graduations and entertaining them years later when they stopped by my room. Of course, I had also planned on becoming a high school German teacher. How I ended up in pre-kindergarten after graduation is another story. A lot changes in a short amount of time, but what motivated me to go into teaching draws me back, if only in my thoughts.

I do sometimes wonder if my students will remember me at all and how. Did I accomplish any of my goals I set out to achieve? Will any of my second graders remember the day they, on their own, figured out why seasons change while "the Miss" prodded them with question after question? Or the day we stopped and watched the clouds while I explained how the gathering thunderheads formed and that there was likely to be a storm? It made an impression on them at the time, at least. Not long after, a storm did break with flashing lightning and crashing thunder. One student screamed and another looked at me with a strange sort of wonder and said, "You were right, Miss!" Will my preK kids remember singing "Oh Tannenbaum" for the school recital? Half my kids hardly spoke English, but they loved learning a German carol. And my first graders? I knew them best of all.

For all the talk about teacher pay, there are some things that never show up on your tax return. One is this, received in my email box this morning:
Hey Mrs. Hanley!

It's me [edit] from your first grade class. I have really missed you. I don't know if this is still your e-mail address. Right now I am heading into sixth grade...

She went on to tell me how she was doing and some different things she is involved with. We are planning on heading that way for vacation later this year, and we just might be able to swing meeting up with each other. I am so excited...forget about Sea World. What is Shamu in comparison to my kids? Er, um. My students?