She was your nurse, she was your teacher

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My junior high school Spanish teacher and I are friends on Facebook. I found her after a bit of internet searching and met her for coffee one day when I had flown home to visit my parents. Some decades have passed since I did dialogs in her class in Tacoma, Washington, but I still remember snippets of those exchanges.

“¿A dónde vas Tomás, a clase?”
“No, voy a la oficina del director.”

Those junior high Spanish classes led to high school Spanish (as well as French and Latin) and months of travel in Mexico. I went on to take Spanish in college, mostly to pick up an easy “A” or two along the way, accidentally accumulating a minor’s worth of credits. Years later, I found I had all the credits I needed for a Spanish teaching endorsement in Illinois. That endorsement got me my first job. I finished my student teaching in high school mathematics, but could not find a local mathematics position, so I accepted a high school Spanish position instead. My Spanish helped me segue into bilingual education a few years later.

Eduhonesty: Your mission, readers, should you decide to accept it, is to try to find that nurse, teacher, social worker, or other adult who made a difference when you were a kid. That quest may fail. I was too late to thank the marvelous Bolivian guy who taught me high school Spanish.

But you might get lucky. And on a gray, January day, or any other day, teachers, nurses, social workers, paraprofessionals, security guards, and all those many people who dedicate their lives to helping kids can use a boost, a reminder of how much their work matters.

P.S. The former elementary school teacher pictured above is also a Facebook friend. The picture was taken at her 95th birthday party.