Choice Literacy's "Thank You Teachers Facebook Series," I began to think about my own teachers who had the most impact on my learning. My mom tells me that I became a teacher the day my sister was born. I guess I was a natural from the beginning....holding school with first my sisters, then later the neighbors...anyone I could corral into paying attention to me. As a bonus, I could also fill in as a priest or nun (based on my experience at St. Patrick's Elementary School grades 1 - 8). To say the least, I knew from an early age, that education was in my future.
Of course my first teachers were my parents. Books filled our house; we didn't go to bed without at least one bedtime story. We cooked with my mom and used our own money to buy candy at Sterlings, the local market where Mom could pick up a gallon of milk.
My first encounter at public school introduced me to Mrs. Motter, my kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Motter was young and smart and beautiful and I thought she was wonderful. (I still do). I loved going to school: learning so many different things, coloring carefully in the lines, playing in the housekeeping center, having a snack break (chocolate milk was $.03), and taking a nap. Mrs. Motter read wonderful stories to us and she made us laugh. She taught me early on that learning was joyful. From her classroom, I received a strong foundation on which my entire education was built. I still remember her invitation to have a Coke with her that summer after school was out (and yes, she kept the date). At 5 years old, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher like Mrs. Motter.
When I was in first grade, and going to parochial school, we moved out into the country. Guess who my new neighbor was...Mrs. Motter. I was lucky to now have her as my neighbor and see her out of school. When she and her husband had children, I babysat. I no longer had to call her Mrs. Motter, but could then call her Sue. My dream of being a teacher like Sue never wavered. If anything, my conviction became even stronger.
I often wonder if Mrs. Motter has any idea of the influence she had on me. Her love of children and love of learning keep me going even today, all these years later. (Oh my gosh...that was 45 years ago!) I want my students to look at me the way I looked at her. I want my students to know that I feel privileged to spend my days with them, helping them move toward their dreams. And so to Mrs. Motter (my friend Sue), I say, "Thank you for launching me forward. Thank you for helping me to build my dreams. Thank you for everything you did to help me be who I am today. Thank you."