Thursday, March 10, 2011

There's Nothing Wrong With Being a Teacher

I remember the day I decided to become a teacher. I was in kindergarten. I had the most incredible teacher, Miss Ball. I remember her as tall, lanky, and serious with gray hair. She wore straight belted dresses that fell below her knees. Her shoes were practical. Our classroom had high ceilings, giant windows, and beautiful woodwork. It was an old city school.

I remember the first day of kindergarten. I wore a plaid dress, plaid kerchief, and shiny brown leather shoes. With my kindergarten classmates, I walked up a magnificent, shiny, wide, wooden staircase with ornate bannisters. The teachers stood at the top of the stairs next to the railing looking at us. When I noticed their smiling faces, I stood taller and prouder. I remember feeling like there was never a better day than this one.

Day after day, Ms. Ball introduced me to worlds I never knew about. She played the piano and we danced. She read stories to us while we rested on our blankets. I remember when she read Make Way for Ducklings, and I realized that a story setting could be a place that I actually knew. We planted seeds and watched plants grow, and we created the best ever paper-cut bulletin boards.

The best revelation of all that year was the day Miss Ball told us about her trip to Holland. She showed us a wooden shoe and shared her slide show of the tulips, canals, people and landscapes. It was the first time in my life I realized that there was a world different than the one I lived in. I remember feeling the thrill of revelation skip through my body like a spring rain.

Ms. Ball changed my life. She filled me with the desire to teach. She opened my eyes and introduced the world to me. So today, when the news is sometimes filled with stories that ridicule and challenge teachers, memories of Ms. Ball comfort me. There's nothing wrong with being a teacher. In fact, it's a life choice one can be proud of.