May 2: Thank A Teacher Day

Today in Apraxia Awareness Month is "Thank A Teacher Day."

Now teachers can make or break a child's academic experience and Apraxia Journey. Terrible teachers lead to children losing interest, losing passion, and a tumultuous relationship between teacher-parent-and child.

But, the amazing teachers. The teachers that go above and beyond their basic responsibilities to ensure a child-regardless of ability-enjoys learning and remains interested...

Now, these teachers deserve a lot more credit than just one blog post.

Frankly, I had some quite amazing teachers that made the Apraxia Journey easier and I couldn't possibly narrow it down to only one.

My parents could sigh a breath of relief when I was with any of them. I owe these amazing educators a lot more, but all I can say is Thank You. They saw the bright girl without a strong voice and they saw my passion to overcome any struggle in my way.

Some of my Teacher Superstars I'd like to thank are:

1. Joe
     My family and I consider Joe a guardian angel. He was an aide in my special-education class in Kindergarten and then my special-education P.E. teacher in Elementary School. After that we would cross paths in Elementary School when he would chaperone field trips and school events. Now what makes Joe amazing was he always defended me when I couldn't defend myself. In Kindergarten I was physically thrown off a jungle gym by another student...Joe (one of the farthest supervisors on the playground) was there within seconds. He RAN and confronted the bully. Even better, he lifted me off the ground, gave me an ice pack and promised me that if I were ever in trouble and he wasn't there-to come and get him and point at what was bothering me. He kept his promise. Even until 5th grade when a new bully on a field trip threw away my lunch tray with my retainers on it without asking me. Joe talked to my parents upon our return and explained the situation with this difficult classmate... My parents even said the only reason why I wasn't grounded was because of Joe's justification that it was not my fault. Thank goodness for Joe, seriously!

2. Mrs. Ficke
    Mrs. Ficke was my 2nd grade teacher and she truly did more than she was asked. I was surprised actually to see her name and signature on some of my IEP Reports as well, she actually attended some meetings with my parents to ensure I was succeeding. What made Mrs. Ficke special was she helped me learn the material in a main-streamed class, when few considered me a 'main stream' student. She would not necessarily go 'easy' on me, but she explained subject-material to me in a flexible or unique way to ensure I'd understand it. She discovered I was a writer, enjoyed stories, and compelled my parents to keep me reading and writing as it's the best means of expression. She also very quickly pinpointed that I struggle with Math (Not much has changed). She also, and I'm not sure if she even remembers this, was the first teacher to defend me outright during attendance call. I said "Here," but it sounded more like "He-Uh" on Day 1 of class. A few students laughed and Mrs. Ficke called their names out and asked, "What's so funny, I didn't hear a funny joke, did you?" Those kids were quiet the rest of the year during attendance. I'm thankful for Mrs. Ficke because she established my academic interests and strengths for years to come. She was also heavily trusted by my parents, which made going to school enjoyable.

3. Thalheimer (and her best friend Bonetti)
    Thalheimer was my 6th grade English/Social Studies Teacher and she too made Middle School a little bit more enjoyable. I would remain friends with Thalheimer and her best friend, Bonetti, for years and both made me feel safe. Thalheimer further instilled a love of reading. She had a better library in her classroom than the actual school itself and her classroom was always open (if it wasn't, then Bonetti would open it for us). That meant if I needed to avoid bullies or didn't want to go outside and subject myself to finding people to sit with, I could safely sit in her classroom. And I did exactly that. Even in future grades, I could come to her and study in a safe space. She also would receive calls that I needed to go to Speech Therapy, she discreetly announced "Alyson, you're needed in the library." We both knew it was for speech, but no one else in the class needed to know. I can't help but think she gave me that discretion out of respect. Thalheimer went above and beyond in all of her lessons and it was amazing to see her commentary on my IEP Reports as well. She was the only teacher in the three years of Middle School I saw listed on my Middle School IEP's, which was very telling for me as an adult.

4. Señor Cohen
    Señor Cohen was my High School Freshman Spanish Teacher. He gave me a passion for Spanish and the belief that it was possible to master. He worked with me one-on-one to find study techniques  and he also partnered me off with fluent Spanish-speakers. Now initially, I thought he was crazy and mistaken for partnering me with others that knew more Spanish than me. But the good thing about Cohen was you could respectfully question him and he'd explain himself, whether or not you accepted that explanation was a whole other matter. I asked him directly if I could switch partners because I'm not versed enough to be with fluent Spanish-Speakers. He understood my concern, but also reassured me that my Spanish "Textbook" knowledge was one of the best in the class, but I was not participating vocally enough and he wanted to build my confidence in speaking the language. By giving me Spanish-speaking Partners they could help my pronunciation (Almost like Spanish Speech Therapy) and I could help their textbook knowledge. Frankly, it worked even though I hate to admit that.
     In more challenging Spanish courses, he'd also help me study. There were even some nights in college I'd Facebook message him asking a Spanish question or editing and he'd help. His belief in me mastering a foreign language and his time to assist me, whether it was for Spanish or even other stresses, he was always there. When I hit a depression point in High School, he actually stopped me and asked if I was okay. Of course I lied and said I was fine, but he saw right through that. He actually discovered it himself and talked me through it. If you've ever been depressed or stressed, I am sure you're grateful too for that one person that just noticed something was off. Señor Cohen helped me academically in High School and even College, he also helped me maintain some sense of calmness when my stress was at an all time high.

The commonality between each of them is that they did things that were never required of them, they went above and beyond their basic job description to help me. When, in reality, they weren't required to do so.

I know it's not much, but thank you.I couldn't have possibly said thank you to only one teacher. Each teacher played a vital role in each stage of my academic career and I had to thank each and every one of them. They made me who I am, established my academic interests, and frankly made me the intelligent woman I am today.

Now if you have any special teachers in your or your child's academic journey, I suggest you give them a big thank you. Afterall, it is Thank A Teacher Day!