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Monday, May 29, 2006 

A Gifted Teacher

In my last post, I wrote about my son's 6th grade teacher who I believed overstepped the boundaries of teaching and ventured into the shadowy area of instructing children according to his own personal beliefs.

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.

Thank goodness for Kyria Olga and Kyria Vikki and Kyria Kiki (my kids current teacher and his pre-school teacher) They really do make a difference. And our kids are better for having known them. Great post as always SeaWitch. I am such a fan. I mean it. Keep on doing what you're doing.

zardoz says :

hope all the little ones
growing up ,, find teachers
with such humanity ,love,
and clearthinking,,, just like
my ST.JAMES
My english teacher,,dean ,
football coach,,martial arts coach

he was a WWII and KOREAN veteran
who became a teacher,,
Theres not a day , that goes by
that his teachings of shakespeare,
limericks,plato,....that something
will tweak in my mind ,, and his
face will smile in aknowledgement
that ,,this or that was well said,
anyways......great post seawitch

you remind me of saturday morning
kids specials on t.v.
you know were there was always a tear ready to drop,,, the instance
the deeper meaning of the story sank in.................=zardoz=

Just like not all teachers are homophobes, neither all are great. Classroom is just a mini reflection of society, no?

And by the way, I am afraid I have to ask. Zardoz, are you a robot? An interstellar entity? A ghost? Someone with a wicked sense of humour? Crazy? Please take no offense, I am asking only after reading so many of your amusingly composed comments (and I mean that with respect, to be honest).

K.

ZARDOZ SAYS :
Dear kostas ,
thank you for the respect,
and that my comments,amuse you.
serioysly
Neither ,robot,ghost,or such.
just an eximmigrant having
confronted the best and the worst
and living out his days
as best as i have learned thru life.
WHY does the fact that i grew up
in the midwestern united states
and refer to my teacher
with love
as a child strike you ,,
that i have
"wicked sense of humour".?.

sorry SEAWITCH..CURIOSITY..
==ZARDOZ==

Zardoz, as I said, don't take my question the wrong way! I was refering to your language, the way you structure your comments textually and not the content! And the beginning and the end of each comment. For some reason it takes me back to the couple Dr Who seasons I watched as a kid. Don't ask me why!

Once again, I mean no disrespect!

K.

Can we vote? I'd go with zardoz being a benevolent interstellar entity.

zardoz says :

kostas, none taken ,
annd yes ,,sorry about
the word structuring
its mainly the reason
why
i dont have a blog,
but guys ,please ,
i am a visitor here,
as are you , stick with
the program of "SEAWITCH".

"benevolent interstellar entity"

O.K. YOUVE HAD YOURE FUN WITH ME,
CAN WE LEAVE IT AT THAT, FOR THE SAKE OF OUR HOST.
Of course im not mad.
..............SORRY SEAWITCH.
IT MIGHT GET TO MY HEAD
ALL THIS ATTENTION.
=Z=

diva...I really wanted to post a picture of Kyria Olga because even in pictures she just looks so kind but I didn't have her permission. Too bad we couldn't clone Kyries Olga, Vikki and Kiki. LOL

zardoz...Good teachers have such an impact on us and we often don't realize how good they were at the time. After writing this post, I feel like going on a mission to find all the teachers I admired and let them know it.
I think I know which shows you mean...the ones which always have some sort of touchy feely 'message' for the kids? LOL Thanks for all your great comments zardoz. :-

kostas...yes, classrooms are a reflection of society but in my opinion, teachers are usually a reflection of the system. The more the education ministry ignores poor performance in teachers, offers positions to teachers based on political affiliation and personal circumstances rather than merit, children's education will suffer.

zardoz...no need for any apology from you for your comments on my blog. You've never been any less than respectful and courteous. Besides, I'm the last person to admonish anyone on 'stickng to the topic' because I'm the first one who has a problem doing it myself when I comment. LOL

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