A few weeks ago, on one of this summer’s blistering hot July days, three former colleagues and I spent the afternoon together. Vicky, Pat, and Pauline are still teaching, though I jumped ship in May of 2003. We loved teaching fourth grade together, collaborating and sharing ideas freely. But we shared more than work. We shared life, trading recipes, advice about raising teenagers, and how to care for aging parents.
After too many years apart, we gathered in Pauline’s cool and comfy living room and picked up our conversation without missing a beat. We talked about what our kids are doing, and their life journeys so far. We shared disappointments and unexpected joys, sorrows and hopes, our dreams for the future and our fears. Most of all, we encouraged one another, just like we used to do after hard days at work.
Believe me, these women are about the most encouraging people around. Or course, encouragement is second nature to people who teach fourth graders their multiplication facts, persuade unwilling students to write cursive, and can make the geography of the United States interesting. Vicky, Pat, and Pauline – they are masters of the craft.
After a few hours with them, all of us crying a little and laughing a lot, I knew what I miss most about teaching.
Not the paperwork.
Not the politics.
Not the paycheck.
Not even the students so much.
What I miss most are these three, strong women who encouraged me to take a risk and pursue my dream of becoming a writer. And, I envy the students, the parents, and the faculty who will rub elbows with them when school starts in a few weeks.
Do they have any idea of the treasures these women are?