Dear Mrs. Sorrells,
This isn’t the first time I’ve thanked you. You taught my oldest daughter in 2003 and my son in 2005; I told you then how much I appreciated your classroom expertise. But in the years since, I’ve come to value your teaching, and that of other Oakley Elementary educators, even more. It is with this clarity of hindsight that I offer you this note of thanksgiving.
Thank you for having a classroom that allowed for different abilities. You challenged bright students, coaxed strugglers, and guided distracted ones. You created space in your classroom for all kinds of learners. In so doing, you taught my children and others that though we are unique individuals, we can find common ground that can lead to community.
One way you demonstrated that was through music. You did that all on your own. You secured enough recorders for every student in the class and taught them to play as an ensemble. As they learned to play the instrument, they learned the value of commitment, perseverance, and excellence. (Music teaches so many things!) They also learned that together, they were better. What a valuable lesson to learn! Thank you.
Thank you for encouraging their strengths. I remember you having a little talent show at the end of the year just for your class. You clearly, genuinely wanted to see each child’s performance. In my memory, you are sitting on the edge of your seat, smiling though each number, and applauding the loudest at the end. As I remember it, you pointed out the positives of each performance. You weren’t offering vain praise, but rather you showed authentic interest and gave real compliments. As you did so, you taught your students that each person has gifts that are to be celebrated. Thank you.
As a volunteer in your class, I was so impressed with your superior teaching abilities: effective classroom management, enthusiastic and engaging lessons, and an unparalleled awareness of the needs of your students. Plus you had that unteachable quality: you obviously, unashamedly, truly loved the children entrusted to you. Thank you, Mrs. Sorrells, for loving my children and for loving so many others. You blessed them. You blessed me.
Once I mentioned to you about how awesome I thought you were. You thanked me then, but responded in writing the next day.
“Anything that happens in my classroom that is awesome is purely by the grace of God. God has given me a foundation of trust, love, and joy. I view the job itself as basically impossible. I do as well as I do solely by the grace of God. Each day is full of lots of miracles.
“Twice a week, at two different church services, I hear the following benediction:
‘The world is now too dangerous a place and too beautiful a place for anything but love. May God take your hands and your feet and work through them. May God take your minds and think through them, and may God take your hearts and set them on fire.’
I try to live these words.”
Indeed, your message of love was unmistakable. Thank you. Thank you for taking to heart the benediction you knew so well. You made a beautiful and lasting difference in the lives of my children and so many others. My heart overflows with gratitude.
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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