It was a brand new day, the start of a brand new world, and its uncertainty loomed big to a little, 5-year-old girl.
Her emotions seemed to be all rolled up into a combined ball of excitement and anxiety. Into her new plaid uniform she dressed. Off she went, carrying her new lunch box, mounting the stairs, and heading into the classroom. With one calm smile and gentle word the kindergarten teacher began a life-changing year with a little child which yielded a lifetime of loving to learn.
After that year the family moved away, but every now and then paths of teacher and pupil would cross. Whenever that occurrence took place, the same heart-warming smile would penetrate the little girl inside, reminding her one more time that she was loved and incredibly special.
This teacher taught much more than the needed basics – the requirements of learning how to read and write – although she taught those very well. She consistently exemplified a lifestyle of Christ-likeness. Patiently she worked us through all the new beginnings, and at the end of the year, we were all invited to the most phenomenal party – at her house! It engraved a memory in my heart that makes me smile yet today. We felt like little kings and queens. Yes, the little girl was me. Although her name was never in flashing lights, this teacher’s fame will forever be carried on in the hearts and through the lives of those children she invested in – Mrs. Benninger.
A few weeks ago, life brought a season of grief my way. My Dad went quickly and so unexpectedly from this world. As I stood beside the casket with my mother, who should we see coming up the aisle but my kindergarten teacher. I’m 41 years old with five children of my own. Yet, there was a comfort in her calm smile and gentle hug – for one moment I was still her “little girl. . .”
Other teachers have also had major impacts upon my life.
I’m so thankful for the sacrifices my parents made to make sure my “education world” was full of those who would leave the right footprints in my soul. Teachers should teach the basics; they should teach their best — but above all, they should love.
This will be the lesson their students will carry with them for a lifetime . . . and that message will influence those students for eternity!