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A Teacher's Presence

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He woke up crazy-early. 5 am to be exact. That in my opinion is too early for a little kid to be awake. And it was apparent by the way he behaved. Or didn’t, to be more exact. I brought a blanket and a pillow downstairs, hoping he would lie down and maybe–just maybe–fall asleep. Or at the very least, rest.

That wasn’t going to happen. At least not yet. He fussed. He complained. He acted as any kid would that was awake an hour and half earlier than normal.

But then something happened. His sister came down. That was what who he needed. You can see the pillow at his feet and the blanket behind his back. They were warm and comfortable. They couldn’t provide the warmth and comfort that he needed. But his sister could.

And she did.

I realize how lucky I was to capture this moment. It happened so quickly and so spontaneously. It was beautiful beyond words.

Look carefully again at the photo above.

It was still early.

It was still chilly.

Yet, they did not feel the need to use the blanket. And the pillow was within reach. But neither of them reached for it. Notice how my son’s hand is–ever so slightly–holding onto his sister’s shirt. He wasn’t about to let go. Although, it wouldn’t have mattered if he did. They fit perfectly. He wouldn’t have fallen. She wouldn’t let it happen.

Last week I wanted to thank my daughter’s teacher. She is what those on Twitter may call a Rock Star. But I wanted to choose just the right words. To let her know how much her time with my daughter means to my wife and I. I told her how much my daughter enjoys being in her class. Because she does. She comes home happier than I have ever seen her before.

But there’s more to it than that. Her classroom is nice, neat and engaging. And I am sure she teaches wonderful lessons. At least, I imagine so, based on what my daughter tells me. Yet, that still didn’t capture what I was searching for.

Then it hit me. It’s not her engaging lessons and it’s not her organized classroom. It’s not that my daughter has straight A’s and it’s not she has many friends in her classroom.

It’s her teacher!

All the other things are nice.

But like my son. It wasn’t things that were going to make him comfortable and happy. It was his sister. And so it is with my daughter and her teacher. That early morning moment helped me come up with the message I wanted to convey to her teacher. So I typed it in a DM and pushed send.


She adores you and loves being in your class, but more importantly she loves being in your presence.

What more could I ask for? That is why my daughter is so happy. I needed her to know that.

Fountas & Pinnel or Houghton Mifflin? Everyday Math or Scott Foresman? Write Steps or Step Up To Writing?

These are decisions that are made each and everyday by those responsible for providing the best possible education for students. And they are important. But not as important as the person in the front of the room. Or should I say, the person circulating throughout the room?

Our days are busy, stressful and oftentimes we go home feeling as if we could’ve accomplished more. But at the end of the day we must ask ourselves one important question.


Do the kids that we teach want to be in our presence? If the answer is yes, then we can accomplish most anything. If the answer is no. Well then we have work to do. Starting tomorrow.

As our students were leaving to go home yesterday I got a hug that I didn’t see coming. From a student who I had to remove from the classroom. From a student who I have had to discipline on multiple occasions. And from a student who knows that I love him.

How does he know?

Because I tell him everyday.

How does he feel about me?

The hug from out-of-the-blue answered that question.

He wanted to be in my presence one last time before he left for the weekend.

And that is why I’ll be back tomorrow.

Because I want to be in his.


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Jon is currently the assistant principal in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is his seventh year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.  

Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.

Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.

  • Guest
    Debbi Lisack Thursday, 16 November 2017

    Absolutely beautiful article! Resonates very well with me! Thank you for writing.

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Guest Monday, 22 October 2018