A Clap in the Face

Posted: October 20, 2014 in Classroom, Education, Inspiration, Kids, Things I Love
Tags: ,

I first understood how much a teacher could change a life when I was in 6th Grade. My teacher, Mrs. Richie, was the first teacher to really, really push me to do better. Up to that point I’d always gotten A’s and B’s and was perfectly happy with that. Mrs. Richie, however, wasn’t. I distinctly remember getting a 92 or something on a test early in the year and she was on me like stink on a skunk:

Mrs. R: “That’s a terrible score for you.”

Me: “Huh? I got an A-.”

Mrs. R: “You should never have missed two questions over this material. You’re better than that.”

Me: “Uh, OK.”

And so forth and so on for the rest of the year. She pushed me to always do my best, to never accept less than what I was capable of doing.

Mrs. Richie was also the first teacher I ever had that showed me school could actually be fun. We played games, we went outside for class, stuff like that. In addition, she never, ever talked down to us. Believe me, a 6th Grader appreciates that. Bottom line, for the first time I actually enjoyed going to school, and learning.

The thing with Mrs. Richie was, you were learning and never even realized it. Her classes never, ever felt like work to me. What a gift that is for a teacher to possess, right?

And because I remembered it so fondly, I carried some of her style with me when I became a teacher.

But on to the point of my story.

On the last day of class, Mrs. Richie took me aside for a talk. She told me how proud she was of me, and she told me to appreciate every day of school because they’d go by quickly. Then she told me the years were going to go by just like that. And as she said “that” she clapped right in my face.

I was sort of startled and said thanks, but in reality I had no clue what she was talking about. Hey, I was 12. But . . .

Fast forward 6-years to my Graduation Day. I was standing in line with my fellow graduates, and suddenly, in front of me, was Mrs. Richie. She looked at me, clapped right in my face and said this:

“See? I told you.”

At that moment I knew exactly what she meant, and it had in fact seemed like the first clap had occurred an instant ago.

Damn, was she right.

I know the lesson she was teaching me, that life is precious and should be appreciated every single day. It’s a lesson we all forget much too often, but it’s one Mrs. Richie always seemed to remember.

And I learned something else that day. Teaching takes patience, because some great lessons can take 6-years to learn.

Thank you, Mrs. Richie.

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