A Gifted Teacher
Thankfully, not all teachers adopt the same methodology in classrooms and my son was also lucky enough to have one of the best teachers I've ever had the pleasure to know.
Her name is Kyria Olga and she was my son's 1st grade teacher.
Teaching 1st grade has to be one of the most difficult classes for a teacher to handle. I'm not discounting the efforts made by junior high or high school teachers who deal with dozens of adolescents because God knows they deserve recognition as well. But I still consider the first grade class to be more difficult on a teacher since they not only have to deal with small children who are leaving the safety of their homes for the first time, they're also dealing with mothers who have a hard time leaving their 'babies' to a stranger for several hours a day, every day for the first time.
And this was exactly the scenario in my son's first grade class. Children crying uncontrollably when their mothers left them,and even worse-the mothers who wouldn't leave their kids and constantly wanting to talk to Kyria Olga every chance they got about the eating habits of Stellitsa or how Giannaki's hand hurt from having to write the alphabet every day. They would stalk her during recess breaks, before and after school and even in the supermarket while she shopped. For mere mortals like myself, I would have probably banned the lot of them from the schoolground altogether and shopped in supermarkets two districts away from the school.
But not Kyria Olga. She handled them all with such tact and patience that within the first two weeks of school, the tears dried up, the tantrums were thrown outside the schoolgrounds and there weren't any parents left peering through the crack in the classroom door. Order was restored and there wasn't a child who would intentionally try to disappoint her because her praise meant so much to them and her disappointment in them was more than they could bear if they didn't take their jobs as students seriously enough.
She started off each child's day by giving them a hug and she ended it the same way. She knew the children so well by the end of the month that she even knew which coat and backpack belonged to whom.
On more than one occasion, she told me about other children whose families couldn't afford food for their children let alon all the school supplies required for the school year and asked if I could donate a couple of extra notebooks and pencils to help them out. I'm sure I wasn't the only parent she solicited help from because at Christmas and Easter, her office was filled with bags containing food, school supplies and the odd backpack or two. Her bulletin board was plastered with photos of her hugging pupils she had in her classroom spanning over two decades. My son was one of them.
Unfortunately, that year she retired and there wasn't a child or parent--myself included--who didn't beg her to stay. I have never met a teacher like her before and my son hasn't one who has even come close to exhibiting the kind of devotion and love she reserved for her students and her job. It's been 5 years and my son still misses her and wonders why kids aren't asked to choose their own teachers. I just tell him to keep showing up every year at school and maybe, just maybe, he might get lucky enough to have another teacher of her calibre. If all teachers were like her, then maybe there'd be a lot more kids finishing high school and entering university.