It’s that time of the year: Back to School after a lengthy summer vacation. Teachers truly appreciate well-deserved time off to pursue personal interests, hobbies, and other personal goals. Vacation spots are a treasure and having free time is a precious commodity. I love summer time. It is a time to slow down and recharge. There is a certain sadness when summer time is over. I love being a teacher but it is a very demanding and sacrificial profession with very little personal time.
This summer I had a chance to reflect upon my career as an educator and what impact it has on my life and the lives of others. I received a call from a student that reaffirms what teachers do and why they do it: because it matters!
I taught English as a Second Language to this Spanish speaking student more than 10 years ago. At that time, she was well into her 70’s. It was a pleasure to see her come to class, sit there while paying close attention to instruction, and being happy by being able to say: “Hi, my name is Maria”. It was a great accomplishment for her to say her name and age in English. I treated her kindly. She was sweet. I knew she was in class to be with her daughter and to get some companionship.
Fast-forward 10 years. I got a call from a woman asking for me in Spanish. After wrestling with my memories I identified who was on the phone: “Mrs. Mari, how are you, so pleased to hear your voice” I said. We started talking and bringing back the memories. And then there it was, a few words that made me tear up and choke up on the phone: “Mrs. Castillo, I truly liked being in your class. You saw me for who I truly was. You looked at me with eyes of love”. Wow, what a great testimony to the power of kind words: I will remember her kind words. It was pay-it forward time. “You look at me with eyes of love”...