Lifelong Teacher Appreciation

Given the fact that it’s Teacher Appreciation Week and also that Mother’s Day is on Sunday, I wanted to write a bit about the teacher that I will always have lifelong appreciation for. My mom Linda. First let me share what happened that prompted this post (it’s long overdue). I received an email that someone had filled out my contact form on my website. I’ll admit, whenever I get notified that someone has filled out my contact form, a bit of giddy excitement brews inside (insert “You’re such a nerd Kyle” type statement here). Anyway, it was my mom, a retired English teacher (since 2005), that had filled out my contact form. This is all it said:

How did you get so brilliant??  I am in awe!!!

Needless to say my heart swelled. My mom is undoubtedly my biggest supporter, encourager, and all around fan. She’s biased of course. 🙂 She’s the reason I became a teacher. I’ve always enjoyed hearing my mom’s funny or interesting moments from her days in the classroom.  My mom is also flat-out an amazing educator that has made a lasting impact on thousands of students. I asked her to help me with this blog post by giving me her top 5 teaching moments (she didn’t know at the time I was writing a blog post about her). So here they are in her words:

My number #1 moment from my teaching career was in 2003 when a 35-year-old woman named Tonya Roby, who I taught in 6th grade, called me and told me she was receiving an award from the Grandview School District for being support person of the year.  She invited me to come and see her get the award during their convocation. Mayor Emanuel Cleaver gave her the award, then she asked me to come up and gave me roses telling the audience that I was the one who had made a huge difference in her life when she was just a shy 6th grader!  Fast forward to 2005 when I started teaching at Meadowmere.  Her kids went there, so I saw her all the time.  I also found out that Linda Lucas, my teaching partner, is her aunt!

Number 2 would be in 1995 when I won Teacher of the Year in Raytown.  It just affirmed all of the hard work through the years.

Number 3 was when in 1988 I was chosen by the Raytown School District to be an exchange teacher to England for the summer.

Number 4 was when I received a Lifetime membership from PTA—I think in 2001—for my many years of dedication to the C-2 District.

Number 5 would just be the pride from having students who are adults tell me how much they remember from being in my class when they were in 6th grade—some of them on Facebook finding my name and sending me a message!

I always remember wanting to have my mom for a teacher, thinking how great that would be. She always did the coolest stuff in her English and Reading classes. I always will remember the projects that kids did during her mythology unit. They would watch Clash of the Titans (the old school one with Harry Hamlin), create a planetarium inside their classroom to learn about stars and astronomy, and design their own mythological/high-tech footwear such as Hermes High Tops, Poseidon’s Pumps, Zeus’ Thunderbolts, etc.

Another event that happened in my Mom’s classroom was an annual event she called The People Fair. Students got to pick a historical or significant world figure and completely immerse themselves in learning about that person. Then the night of The People Fair, the students portrayed this person and the gym became a living museum of sorts for visitors to learn from. It was a great interdisciplinary project that her students always loved being part of.

This is just a sampling of the great things my mom did with her students. This all required extensive interdisciplinary collaboration with her teammates. No closed doors or islands here! Teachers working together to do what’s best for kids and bringing an engaging team approach to everything that they did. Is it just me or has this mantra of teaching dwindled? Why do some not want to do this? It will make your job easier people and your students are the ultimate winners!

I don’t remember my Mom ever being stressed about state testing. She just taught and offered rich experiences to her students. Once per quarter she would even have all the teachers and students from her team come to our house for a big cookout outside. On a school night even! One of the other teachers on her team played part-time in a bluegrass band and he’d even bring his banjo and sing songs! It was a regular bonding time between her fellow teachers and students. What’s happened to the mesh of education and community since then? If a teacher wanted to do this today, I’d imagine the idea would be shot down in a second by most administrators. I’m sure this is not the case everywhere but in society today it would sadly be viewed differently. That’s another post, however.

Students in Linda Pace’s classes always knew that their English teacher cared deeply about their success and well-being. She made sure that her students’ parents knew this as well. To this day (my mom still works part-time teaching Title I Reading at an elementary school), I hear my mom say “I have parents to call tonight”. Even if she isn’t their full-time classroom teacher, those little guys and gals know that Mrs. Pace cares about them and wants them to succeed.

My mom is the kind of teacher I strive to be every day. She has created lifelong  learning memories for thousands of students and she will always be the teacher I appreciate most. She never put herself on an island and closed her door every day to everything else that was going on in the school. It was nothing out of the ordinary for my mom to don the school mascot costume, dress up goofy and sing a song in the school talent show, play in the students vs. teachers volleyball game, or stay up late making cookies for her students to enjoy (the Edcamp KC and Edcamp Omaha attendees can attest to these!).  To me, my mom is the definition of what a great teacher does and the kind of person a great teacher is. I still strive to learn constantly and be this type of teacher every day. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as awesome as my mom but I sure have fun trying!

There are countless teachers out there that deserve our appreciation. Make sure you let them know, even if it’s years later. I said earlier about always wanting to have my mom for a teacher; well she has been. She’s been my teacher every day for the last 34 years. You’re my favorite teacher of all time Mom and thank you for everything you have ever taught me to help me not only be a better student, but also a better teacher, father, and human being. Happy Mother’s Day! Love ya!

My mom Linda and I - May 2011

Do you know an awesome teacher? Be sure to share about them on Twitter this week using the hashtag #iKnowaTeacher


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6 Comments on “Lifelong Teacher Appreciation”

  1. Christine says:

    I can attest to Kyle’s mom’s generosity of spirit having been on the receiving end of some of those cookies at both EdCampKC and EdCampOmaha. Having read Kyle’s reflections, I now know why she made all those cookies for us. She sounds like a wonderful teacher.

  2. Nice! I love this post and I’m sure you do make your mom proud. She sounds like a great person, teacher and, well, mom! Hope you both enjoy your Mother’s day week end.

  3. Dee Wagner says:

    Such a nice piece Kyle. As a long time friend of you and your mother I know for sure she is as proud of you as your are of her. Apples don’t fall far from the tree, I wish you as much happiness in education as your mother experienced. This is such a great tribute to such a great woman.

  4. […] what a great teacher his mom was to many students and especially to him. It’s a great post! (You should go read it.) In it, he mentioned how his mom worked so well with her colleagues to bring about wonderful […]

  5. Joan Young says:

    In one word: beautiful! I love hearing your mom’s story and how you so openly reflect on the joy you felt when she wrote that sweet comment. Thanks for sharing Kyle!


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