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I spent some time in your hallways today. I sat in small chairs that adorned art-clad walls and I gazed up with anticipation each time someone approached the doorway.
I noticed how you smiled as soon as you saw us through the door frame. How that one simple gesture eased so many apprehensions I was having. How you did it with such ease that I know you give that same smile hundreds of times each day. Times when you feel like slamming your classroom door and escaping into the parking lot for 2 minutes of solitude. I noticed how easily you give that smile instead and how much I believed it to be sincere.
I noticed your conference schedule posted in the hallway. I couldn’t help but notice that it started at 7:00 this morning and went till 8:30 tonight. How conferences were scheduled every 25 minutes throughout the entire day without a single slot scheduled for a bite to eat, a trip to the bathroom, or a second to breathe. Your voice was starting to weaken by 5:00 PM but still I noticed that when I mentioned to you how hard this day must be you dismissed it as if it were nothing.
I noticed the way you spoke about my children. How you understood that inside each of them is spark so bright that no adult can even begin to contain it but all we can hope to do is feed it and perhaps coax it in certain directions. That you spoke about them as if they were a person, a real person, with passions and talents and challenges and obstacles. How you spoke about them as if they were the only fires you had to tend to each day and you could dedicate all of your kindling just to them. I noticed how their flame seems to fuel you in the process.
I noticed the way you beamed when you talked about their personalities. I do the same thing every time I tell stories about them. Even when you were telling me my kid has some areas to work on you smiled and assured me they would get there. I noticed that you told me the truth but you told it in a way that let me know we were a team that is working together. A team that would get through this. A team that notices when someone is apprehensive about hearing these things.
I noticed the way you carefully preserved my child’s crappy art projects and how you talked about them as if they had artistic value. I noticed that you remembered my child’s birthday, her siblings name, her passion for plants, her freakish memory, her personality quirks and charms, and every other piece of her that I thought only parents could recognize and love.
I noticed that as we exited your classroom you told me to tell my child hello from you, then you moved on to greet the next family with that same welcoming grin.
On days as strenuous and exhausting as this one must be, and on all of the days in between, to all of the teachers out there I just want to let you know that I noticed. And I can never thank you enough.