|Jesse and Betsy on their last day as the stay-at-home lunch buddies.|
When the school year began, I still wasn't sure I had made the right choice. Jesse often had to be dragged out of my car by the teacher. He wasn't at all equipped to learn the kindergarten curriculum. The teacher was pretty strict and demanding. But early in the year, I brought Jesse to some after-school activity. As we walked down the hall toward his classroom, we could see his teacher standing in the doorway. When Jesse saw Ms Z, he broke loose from me, ran down the hall, and he and his teacher wrapped their arms around each other. That's when I knew Jesse would be okay in kindergarten.
Two years later, here's Jesse with his teachers:
See that smile on Jesse's face? That's a special brand of smile we see only a certain moments. Like, for example, nights when he's having a hard time falling asleep and is invited into his parents' bed to snuggle in that sweet spot in the middle. Apparently, he also feels that same sense of peace, cozy, and love when standing between his teachers.
Each day for the last two years, I know Jesse has made Ms Z and Ms K's jobs harder. Some days, much harder. Some teachers would have felt frustration and eventually resentment toward him. But these two never did.
In my experience, successful elementary school teachers fall into two categories. The Administrators get their students to learn by monitoring and planning and regimenting every move their students make. The Nurturers forego discipline and organization. But they love their students so completely that the students will do anything--walk on water, learn the alphabet, speak Swahili--just to please them. These teachers were the best of both worlds. They held high expectations. They were demanding and tough. They stretched and pushed him. But they loved him to bits. And for that, I am eternally grateful.