Those Who Teach

“Sometimes,” she said. “You just connect with certain kids. That's how it was with him. I had to help him.”

I don’t care if you believe in heaven. But I hope you believe in angels. If you don’t, you owe it to yourself to visit a school. You’ll see plenty.

And I’m not talking about kids, but about folks who know how to swat hindparts, kiss bruises, and are familiar with the conflict at Valley Forge.

I know one such teacher. Long ago, he was a rambunctious kid, with a proclivity toward accidents. We called him, Shinbone—he busted his shin into three pieces sliding into first base.

We signed his cast, “Get well you ornery little shin.”

Nowadays, he goes by another name. One much more coordinated-sounding. And to his students, he’s about as cool as Frigidare. He teaches science and history. He used to coach middle-school football, too, but parents didn’t think it was fair letting every child with a bellybutton on the team.


Anyway, with his first eighth-grade class, he made a promise to students. If everyone got A’s, he swore to shave his head, right there in class. If their combined average was less than A, he would shave their heads.

On the last day of school, they scalped him like a bunch of Comanches.

I have another teacher friend. She tells me during her first year teaching high-school, one boy’s mother overdosed.

She attended the funeral. When she arrived, there were only three people in the room attending the service.

“Mine was the only name in the guestbook,” she told me. “Broke my heart.”

She encouraged the boy to go to college, and even helped him get a football scholarship. That child went on to participate in a national playoff.

And if that doesn’t make you feel older than shin, here’s another:

I know a woman who had a Mexican boy in her second-grade class. The boy showed up unable to speak a word of English.

“Sometimes,” she said. “You just connect with certain kids. That’s how it was with him. I had to help him.”

So, she attended night-school Spanish courses, and learned enough to help teach the child to speak.

“At lunch,” she said. “While students ate, he and I would work on English.”

That boy is a structural engineer today. He sent that teacher a letter last month, saying he thanked God for her kindness.

The teacher told me, “I believe God created me for this job.”

But then, maybe you don’t believe in God. It’s really none of my business if you do. But if you ever wanted to touch a real angel.

Visit a school.

And shake a teacher’s hand.

1 comment

  1. Dora Huelsbeck - June 4, 2017 12:40 am

    So true. Teachers are special. I believe everyone has good memories of a special teacher that helped them to believe they are worth something and can achieve anything if they try. My daughter, Jenny teaches special education. She has such patience and love for all her students. (A trait she got from her grandma). She makes sure that each year they have a Prom of their own. I’m so very proud of her.


Leave a Comment