Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - May 9, 2002

Hug a teacher today

The school year is rapidly coming to an end. The play and the prom have come and gone. What's left is a flurry of sports events, awards nights, end-of-the-year field trips and "fun days." Teachers are wondering if they can keep the students in their classrooms from bouncing off the walls. Students are wondering why they have to be cooped up in a classroom when the weather is so nice.

As a faculty member at K-State, I can relate to this. Although my students are older and more mature, there's a certain "let's just get this semester over with" attitude. There are projects to complete and exams to take, but that sunshine beckons them - and me.

As usual, I find myself wanting to slow the inevitable whirlwind to take stock of the past few months. What, if anything, have I taught my students? Did I make a difference in any of their lives?

And I look at my daughters. How have they changed over the past year? What have they learned? Katie can write in cursive and can recite her multiplication tables, and she knows about the Seven Wonders of the World and the Underground Railroad. Mariya learned about the paranoia and prejudice surrounding the Salem witch trials, knows the difference between a proton and a neutron, and can understand some of the Spanish spoken by our Bolivian friend Nedy. But those are only a few of the things their teachers have taught them.

Anyone visiting our high school or grade school this year would have found the places buzzing with activity and filled with high enthusiasm, colorful displays and pride.

Our teachers hold our children's hands, wipe their tears and runny noses, show them how to respect others and, most importantly, give them a love for learning - something that will serve them well no matter what they do with their lives.

When I think of the teachers who have influenced me, I always remember my third grade teacher - also my Mom - who decorated our classroom with rock and shell collections and birds' nests to stimulate our interest in nature and who made a life-size teepee to teach us about Native Americans.

I also think of my fifth grade teacher, who taught me the "new math," and my junior high teacher, who encouraged me to memorize the 30-stanza "The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver" by Edna St. Vincent Millay. And my high school Russian teacher started me on a life-long love of foreign languages.

I noticed on a calendar that National Teacher Appreciation Week is this month. One publication I have lists it as May 5-11, while another has it as May 11-20. But I guess it doesn't matter what the "official" dates are.

I also noticed in those publications that there's an International Pickle Week, a World Turtle Day, a National Splurge Day, a Take Your Pet to Work Week, a National Bike Month, a National Egg Month and a National Clean Off Your Desk Day. I think I'll pass on those "holidays." I think instead I'll hug my daughters' teachers - the people who are helping to shape their lives.

Katie with third grade teacher Deb Conrad.

2002 Index