When I was in the eighth grade, I walked into a classroom where there was being spoken a foreign language by the most brilliant, bright-eyed, lovely, quirky, caring teacher I still have ever known. Her name was Mrs. Mahuron, but since her husband worked a few doors down in the science department, we sometimes just called her Mrs.
She was always smitten with her chemist husband, who was equally brilliant and caring. Theirs was a marriage worth having. They subtly displayed a genuine, deep care for one another, and a genuine, deep sense of their calling as teachers. Our little town was so incredibly blessed to have them.
For five years she instructed me in the language, and then and since in all the ways of life. She was always there. And she was always smiling. And she was always giving off the sense that she cared about us so much, and at the same time expecting us to preform to the absolute best of our ability. Her care for us never excused our mediocrity; her care was so genuine it demanded more from us. The best from us.
Mrs. was a steady, dependable constant at a time in my life when all was chaotic and in perpetual motion. She was always there. Over the course of five years, she showed up for me. She listened, but didn’t pry. She counseled, but didn’t lecture. She encouraged, but didn’t pressure. The atmosphere she created within those hard cinderblock walls was one of warmth and invitation. It was as if walking through those doors were walking right into a warm blanket on a cold day.
Outside of my family, she has been the greatest influence in my life.
My favorite exercise she had us to complete was a journal. It was informal. It was handwritten. It was loose leaf paper tucked in a plain manilla folder. An unassuming facade for a sea of thoughts and teenage emotions. Oh, how I wrote. It was as if I had been bound, and all of a sudden I had been set free. I, of course, journaled about very mature and distinguished things. Boys. Homecoming. Prom. Upcoming collegiate adventures….to where? What should I do? Where should I go?
Do you know that she always took considerable time to answer my quandaries? Her written responses were thoughtful and wise, deliberate and sure. She never dismissed my juvenile woes. I can still see her distinct handwriting to this day in my mind’s eye.
A few weeks ago I was able to speak to her by phone. She smiled as she spoke. I am sure of it. And do you know what she said? She said these words me, “Oh, I know I didn’t have anything to do with it, but I’m just so proud of you.” And she said other beautiful things that I could hardly swallow through my tightened throat and tear brimmed eyes.
And I just want to say now, Mrs., that YES YOU DID. You had everything to do with it. You taught me. But you taught me in the truest sense of the word. You taught in a way that compelled me to learn. To yearn to be a seeker of knowledge, and ultimately of Truth. Thank you. Thank you for compelling me to learn. Thank you for demanding my best, but most importantly for demonstrating yours. Yours is such an incredible testimony to Truth. Of excellence and steadfast perseverance.
And Mrs. Mahuron, thank you for showing up for me. Your classroom was always a refuge and your smile always a comfort. I cannot imagine the number of students whose lives you touched in your tenure at our small school. I cannot imagine the ripple effect that flows from your influence. I only know that there is more excellence and less mediocrity in the world because you taught in it. I know there is more warmth and less arrogance, more authenticity and less pretense, more security and less confusion. Because you have taught in this world, there are more smiles and down right more joy. Your influence knows no bounds.
Para la idioma de español, muchas gracias. Para la idioma de enseñar, infinitas gracias. Tu ejemplo es un regalo muy muy precioso.
(By the way, Mrs., ….fragments in the above reflection are intentional and for dramatic effect.) 😉