It’s the rare 18 year old who starts college with the same major she has at her graduation. Even rarer is the one who approaches retirement in that very same career. My friend Lisa is just that extraordinary. What is this compelling field you ask? The answer: middle school education! Middle. School. Ed.u.ca.tion. Teaching pubescent 12 and 13 year olds who giggle when someone says “duty” (“She said doody!”) and who pass gas with smug aplomb. That’s what Lisa signed up for nearly 30 years ago.
It’s true. Even when we were in college, Lisa (Allen) Henson couldn’t wait to teach seventh graders. Some could argue (successfully) that she’s crazy. Just flat-out crazy. But I say she’s a hero. Her commitment to education, inspires her colleagues and transforms her students. Well, just listen to this story she told me a while back.
“Honestly, the entire seventh grade faculty talked about him.” Lisa explained. “They said Jackson* constantly disrupted their classes; and that no matter what they did he just did not respond to discipline.”
Apparently, Jackson’s academic record isn’t exactly admirable. He scores in the lowest percentile on standardized tests. It seems he just never really understands much in the classroom. Or at least, he doesn’t understand the things that are measured on state mandated multiple-choice tests.
Lisa continued. “I couldn’t believe they were talking about the Jackson I knew. I never had those problems with him. Never.” So one day Lisa just asked him. “Hey Jackson? Why do you behave for me and not for the other teachers?”
Jackson, as big as a man, loomed above Mrs. Henson. He looked down at her and said, smiling, “Because you expect me to, Mrs. Henson.”
(Thanks to Lisa and to all our other educators. You matter. You are our heroes every single day!)
*Name changed. According to http://www.babycenter.com/top-baby-names-2013, Jackson was the most common name given to boy babies last year. Seemed like a good choice for this fella as well.
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.
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