I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a dear friend, poet and writer Dawna Proudman. Dawna has honoured me by agreeing to be a guest blogger on The Adventures of Grandpa and Grandma Snyder.
"You hold our grandchildren's hearts in your hands"
My granddaughter is leaving home. She is going to JK. The school is only three blocks away, but unbeknownst to Trinity, it is a completely different world. My daughter Amanda has done a wonderful job raising Trinity to be confident and curious. Trinity is excited about going to school but I keep thinking she is so very small.
I’ve been thinking about Amanda’s grade 2 teacher who taught her to keep doing the work and eventually, it would click. When I mentioned this to Amanda, she said with great emotion, “I loved Ms Meloche. I teach Trinity the same thing.”
I work with seniors and all of them have vivid memories of teachers. A 94-year-old woman shivered as she told me about the teacher who scolded her publicly when she was late, even though she had a note from her mom explaining the reason for her tardiness. Ninety years later she could still feel the shame and horror.
I remember Miss Babbit, my grade 3/4 teacher who read us Charlotte's Web, and Mr. Nichol, the grade 5 teacher who pegged chalk at us. I remember Mr. Bush’s enthusiastic response to a play I wrote in Grade 10 and the grade 2 teacher who casually dismissed my painting of a blue jay as “copied”.
I have been privileged to meet many caring and dedicated teachers. One night in Thunder Bay, at the end of a writing workshop I gave for teachers, a woman said “I spent the day trying to get my class to understand this math problem and we were all so frustrated. I was so tired at the end of the day I almost didn’t come to the workshop. I’m going to apologize to them and then we’re going to make drum songs.”
I also witnessed a teacher slamming cupboard doors and raging at a class of grade five students, then bribing them with sweets a few minutes later. I spoke to the Vice Principal who told me he was nearing retirement and needed to keep teaching in order to get his pension. “Yes, but I’m concerned about the students” I told her. I was never invited back to that school.
Most teachers love kids and passionately want to teach. They are quiet heroes, undervalued by our society. Still, I worry about what this school system will do to my not-yet-four-year-old granddaughter. Will it lift her up or mangle her creative, adventurous spirit?
I pray that Trinity’s teachers will find ways to preserve their humanity in a system which can make that difficult to do. I pray that her teachers will always look in her eyes and know they hold my granddaughter’s heart in their hands.