I met my eighth grade teacher yesterday. She had an appointment in the school that I teach in. I was sitting in the office marking papers, and I heard her voice.
All of a sudden I was back in her classroom. I could smell her musty clothes; see her sincere smile, wide with enamel stripped teeth. I didn’t like her classes, but I liked her. She was one of the good ones, those who cared, and even when they had no idea what to do with you, but still stuck around, when you slapped them in the face after all their efforts, were still there.
I haven’t seen her since 10th grade, when I met her while walking past my elementary school. We exchanged pleasantries, but not much more. Meeting her now was interesting; I’m a different person. I’ve made something of myself, I’ve come a long way since that purposefully annoying, inquisitive child that I was.
So she was standing right outside the office, and I heard her tell the secretary.
“I’m Mrs. Schwartz….”
My back was facing her, I turned around and said,
“Hi, I’m TooYoungToTeach, I don’t know…”
She cut me off,
“I knew you looked so familiar!” she paused with a small smile. “Don’t tell me you’re teaching here?!”
I smiled broadly and said, “Yup.”
“Yeah,” I continued, “that’s the reaction most people have. Something’s gotta be wrong with the system if I’m teaching.
She shook her head,
“No I can see it, I can see it,” she repeated. “What do you teach?
“English and Writing, 10th and 11th”
“That I can really see, right up your alley!”
I nodded fervently, like a little kid, lapping it up.
And then she went into meeting, and I went back to my marking.
We never grow old of approval.