Teaching Kids

My favorite thing about teaching kids was the kids. They’re so much fun to be around. And they have so much love, a kind of love you won’t find anywhere else.  

As a teacher, every year I had the privilege to be with a group of kids for nine and a half months. During that time, my number one objective was to do everything I could to strengthen and support families.  

Parent conferences are scheduled early in the year, so teachers can meet all the parents and talk about our goals and address any concerns that the teacher or the parent may have.  

One year, a mother told me during our parent conference that her daughter was really enjoying my class, and the mother was happy about this because the girl had some problems the previous year during third grade. I told the mother this shocked me because she was such a spectacular kid, very enthusiastic and a real joy to be around. 

Anyhow, fourth grade was a grand success for this kid — she made all sorts of wonderful progress, socially and academically. The mother expressed gratitude every time I saw her. 

A Knock on My Door

One morning near the end of the year, I got a knock on my door before school. It was the girl and her father, whom I had never met before. The girl was holding a gift. 

The father said, “Mr. Bray, my wife and I would like to thank you for everything you did for our daughter this year.” I invited them in and told the father that it was my pleasure to be around his wonderful daughter every day. 

I have never seen anything more beautiful than the love parents have for their children. Nothing I have ever accomplished on a professional level ever made me feel better than knowing that I played a small role in the life of this family. Like Ira Gershwin said, “They can’t take that away from me.”  

She Called Me Gramma

There are some kids at an elementary who shine so bright that everybody knows their name — all the kids, all the teachers, and even the parents and volunteers. Liliana (not her real name) was one such student.  

Liliana lived with her gramma, and she was always saying things like, “Gramma said this” and “Gramma did that.” One time I walked past Liliana’s desk as she was working on a project. She pointed at her work and said to me, “Gramma, look!” Then she raised her head and gave me and the class the funniest look I ever saw, as if to say, “Oh my God, I just called Mr. Bray Gramma.”  

It was the longest sustained laugh I ever experienced in a classroom. I had to sit down because I was laughing so hard. I was actually very flattered because I knew she loved her gramma very much. 

by Richard W. Bray 

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