Thursday, January 26, 2012

Encouraging Words for Teachers by Jaye Lewis


The Difference a Teacher Can Make  by Jaye Lewis
             Steve, a twelve year old boy, with barely, literate, alcoholic parents, was about to be lost, forever, by the U.S. education system.  Remarkably, he could read, yet, in spite of his reading skills, Steve was failing.  He had been failing since first grade, as he was passed on from grade to grade.  Big as he was, looking more like a teenager than a twelve year old, Steve went unnoticed...until Ms. White.

            Ms. White was a smiling, young, beautiful redhead, and Steve was in love!  For the first time in his young life, he couldn't take his eyes off his teacher; yet, still he failed.  He did no  homework, and he was always in trouble with Ms. White.  His heart would break, under her sharp words, and when he was punished for failing to turn in his homework, he felt just miserable!

            In the middle of the first semester of school, all the seventh grade was tested for reading and math.  Steve hurried through his tests, and continued to dream of other things, as the days wore on.  His heart was not in school, but in the woods, where he often escaped alone, trying to shut out the sights, sounds and smells of his alcoholic parents.  No one checked on him to see if he was safe.  No one knew he was gone, because no one was sober enough to care.  Oddly, Steve never missed a day of school. 

            One day, "Steve!"  Ms. White's impatient voice broke into his daydreams.  Startled, he turned to look at her.  "Pay attention!" So, Steve gazed at Ms. White, with adolescent adoration, as she began to go over the test results for the seventh grade.

            Ms. White pinned Steve to his seat with a sharp stare, then her eyes searched his face.  With a sigh, she said to the class, "You all did fair, except for one, and it breaks my heart to tell you this, but..." She hesitated.

            Ms. White, again, fixed her eyes on Steve. "...the smartest boy in the seventh grade is failing my class!"  She just stared at Steve, as the class looked around at him, and Steve dropped his eyes, and examined his hands.

            After that, it was war!!  Steve still never did his homework, but the punishments and the lectures, became more severe, and the pleadings took over.  "Just try it...ONE WEEK!  Give yourself a chance!  Don't give up on your life!  Steve!  Please!  I care about you!"

            Wow!  Steve's attention was immediately captured!  Someone cared about him?  Someone young and beautiful!  Someone, totally, unattainable, and perfect, CARED ABOUT HIM!!!

            Steve went home that night, taking one look around the slovenly hovel.  Both parents passed out, in various stages of undress, and the stench was overpowering!!  He, quickly gathered up his camping gear, a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a bottle of water, and this time, his school books.  Then he headed for the woods.

            Next day, he was at school, on time, and he waited for Ms. White to enter the classroom.  Here she came, all sparkle and smiles!  God!  She was BEAUTIFUL to the adolescent boy, as he yearned for her smile to turn on him.  It did not.

            Ms. White, immediately, gave a quiz on the homework of the night before.  Steve hurried through the test and was the first to hand in his paper.  With a look of surprise, Ms. White took his paper.  Then, obviously puzzled, she began to look over it.  Steve walked back to his desk, his heart pounding within his chest. As he sat down, he couldn't resist another look at the lovely woman.

            There, on Ms. White's face, was a look of total shock!  She glanced up at Steve, then down, then up.  Suddenly, her face broke into a radiant smile.   In his first seven years of school, Steve had just passed his first test!  And he had gotten every answer right!

            From that moment, life changed for Steve.  Life at home, never got better, but life still changed.  The change that took place was within Steve's heart, all because of ONE teacher, who cared.

© Jaye Lewis, January 26, 2001

 This is a true story.  I know it, because Steve is my husband, and I am the love of his life, as he is mine.  Steve is a wonderful husband and a loving father.  He has excelled in life, having three careers, and now embarking on a fourth.  There has been no seed money.  He came from nothing, and so did I.  Everything he has is because of the grace of a Merciful God.  Steve has worked hard, every day of his life, since Ms. White inspired and encouraged him.  I will always be grateful to her.

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