Forest Witcraft het lank gelede gesê:
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…
But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
Dít is baie waar van die mense aan wie ons daagliks ons kinders toevertrou: onderwysers.
Ek onthou nog elke liewe juffrou en meneer wat in die twaalf jaar van my skoolloopbaan nie net die nodige en vereisde kennis aan my oorgedra het om van graad na graad na standerd te slaag nie, maar ek onthou veral die wyse waarop dit gedoen is. Die lewenslessies wat tussendeur die akademie en kennis oorgedra is, is vervleg in my herinneringe van skool – en nou, as ek terugkyk, kan ek sien watter invloed dit gehad het om my as mens te vorm.
Daar was goeie lessies en ondersteuning en aanmoediging, maar ongelukkig hier en daar ook ’n negatiewe les wat gemaak het dat ek bewustelik of onbewustelik belangstelling verloor het in iets wat dalk, sou dit op ’n ander wyse oorgedra wees, ’n positiewe ervaring kon wees en ’n bydrae kon lewer tot die mens wat ek vandag is.
Met twee kinders waarvan een nog in die grondslagfase en die ander in graad 4 is, kan ek wel reeds deeglik sien watter verskil dit maak as ’n juffrou bietjie dieper kyk as die oppervlak en die kind dienooreenkomstig behandel, aanmoedig en ontwikkel.
Vir elkeen van hierdie opvoeders wat buite die boksie dink en optree en ons kinders sien as die individue wat hulle is en hulle aanmoedig om hulle volle positiewe potensiaal te ontwikkel, wil ek vandag ’n lansie breek en ’n baie groot dankie sê.
Die opvoedingstaak begin tuis, maar dankie aan die onderwysers en ondersteuningspersoneel wat die positiewe saadjies wat ons as ouers hoop ons plant, aanhou water gee en dit met deernis, empatie en positiwiteit ontwikkel en laat gedy.
Ek deel graag ’n fiktiewe, dog aangrypende, storie wat reeds jare lank op die internet die ronde doen. Dit is die verhaal van Teddy en watter invloed ’n juffrou wat dieper gekyk het, op sy lewe gehad het:
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.
It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around…”
His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”
His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”
Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to.” After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.
On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets”.
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favourite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.
The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.
Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”
** My kinders se skool se missie is “leer vir die lewe” en ek waardeer elkeen van daardie opvoeders wat ons kinders as mense – hoe klein ookal – vol potensiaal sien en behandel.