Our Gift to You this Teacher Appreciation Week

Our Gift to You this Teacher Appreciation Week

It’s a great time of year: spring has sprung, testing has wrapped up, and you may even be planning end-of-year celebrations. But we also know that a year in the life of a teacher is never without its trials. We felt those trials more than ever this year - and still, we saw educators like you respond with resilience, optimism, and fire.

To that end, we asked teachers to submit their personal stories - stories that affirm their calling as educators. Read a preview below, and get the whole thing here.

We’re grateful for your persistence, this Teacher Appreciation Week and beyond.

“Teachers don’t always get to see the difference they make.” That’s what I was told prior to becoming one. Of course, we don’t do what we do to get public recognition; we simply do it because we care and wish nothing more than to see our students succeed. All of my favorite teachers growing up weren’t my favorite because of their lessons; they were my favorite because of how they made me feel. That’s why building relationships is so important to me.

A couple of months ago a former student from my very first year of teaching reached out to me via Facebook. I now serve in a different school district, but he was able to find me. His message said, “Hi Ms. Hurtado. I don’t know if you remember me. My name is -------. I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you that I still remember you every day. You always made me feel loved, because that’s not how I felt at home. I always remember you and wish you were still my teacher. I hope you remember me.”

A rush of memories came flooding back as I read this message. He was a troubled young man with a reputation for being disruptive and aggressive. His dad was emotionally and verbally abusive, and spent most of his time with his new wife. I could tell my student was suffering. He was always angry or crying. He took out his frustrations on the other students. One day I kept him in from PE so we could have a heart to heart talk. We made a deal that whatever happened at home, didn’t need to come to my room. In my room he got to start over every morning. He could talk to me whenever he wanted and I would listen. It took time for him to warm up to me. We had a rough year and it took a lot of trust on both our parts. I never saw him after that year, but often wondered what he was up to. Who loved him? Did family life get better? Was he happy? When I saw that name in my inbox, my heart skipped a beat both in fear and in joy. In that moment I understood firsthand what people meant about not always seeing the difference we make. Thanks to that unexpected message, I knew I was where I was meant to be. The long hours, the tears, the stress… it was all worth it if I could make one child’s life better.

Teresa Hurtado
5th grade teacher
Klein, TX

Want to submit a teacher story? Share it with us at info@newsela.com with the subject line “My Classroom Story”.

 

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