A Teacher's Story Retold
The clock alarm announced 5:30 AM. There was no punching the snooze button, not even once. Bus duty called. One hour later, she was dressed and backing her car out of the apartment parking space. Driving away into the dark, cold, foggy morning, she sighs, thinking about how cozy her roommates must feel, nestled in their warm beds. But, teachers cannot sleep in. The students will not wait.
Driving down the deserted road, her mind drifted heavenward as she questioned: Why is this year so difficult? Her teaching strategies were improving, but her students seemed to be more difficult—not in their ability to learn, but in their ability to navigate the difficult circumstances they come from.
So many are broken—broken homes, broken hearts, broken lives.
God, could there not be just one year full of happy homes, happy hearts, happy everything? Just one year with no black eyes, no bruises, no broken hearts over unborn siblings being “donated”? Couldn’t those students who are unwanted feel wanted for a change? Could they please go to bed at a decent bedtime with full tummies and someone to read a fairy tale to them as they drift off to sleep? Just one year? Her heart filled with grief, and tears spilled down her cheeks. God, please, just one year?
She pulled into the school parking lot and reached for her initialed teacher bag full of work completed “after hours.” As she opened her car door, the most cheerful sound greeted her, “Gooding morning, Miss Smith!”
Her mind raced with thoughts like: How could this child with all of his brokenness light up at the sight of me? What does he see? Could I also bring joy to my other hurting students today?
The following day, her routine began the same way, except it felt darker and colder. After driving a short distance, she reached for the radio dial and adjusted it to her favorite 70’s station, attempting to lift her spirits with music. However, even “We are Family,” by Sister Sledge, couldn’t entice her into her driver’s-seat-dance with loud, tone-deaf singing like it usually does. Somehow, it all felt empty. Then she remembered something her younger sister said, “When you drive to work I want you to listen to this really good podcast.”
She turned on the programed podcast and the pastor began to speak. As she turned down the road which always promises to be the darkest, God’s inspired words delivered through this pastor penetrated her heart:
“And to the teacher out there … those students this year are placed in your classroom by God.” She began to weep. God had whispered tenderly, “It’s not a career, it’s a call.”
A group of South Carolina teachers who are living real.
All of those questioning moments snapped into focus. God had already answered her questions with a joyful greeting from a broken student. God’s love and tenderness were flowing through her life and into her students. As she parked the car and reached for her initialed teacher bag, something was different. Though her tears had erased her freshly applied make-up, she had a huge smile across her face. She opened her car door and again the very next words she heard affirmed the words God had spoken to her heart that morning: “Good morning, Miss Smith! You look beautiful today.”
The task of a modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.
Cherie Nettles is a Christian comedienne, author and speaker. She is a mother of two and lives in West Columbia, S.C. with her husband, Mike.