Now, don't anyone get too terribly excited to see a fresh post here at The Yard. My 'parameters' really haven't changed since my 'farewell' post a couple months ago. But, I had a few posts 'in the hopper' when I said goodbye, and I've more-or-less decided that the World would benefit from my going ahead and actually, you know, posting them. So, I'll dribble them out over the next few months, and we'll see what the World looks like after that. . .
8M is just about to finish 5th grade, and thereby, his tutelage under the estimable Mrs. Jackson. Mrs. Jackson holds a unique position in the life of our family. All of our kids have attended the same Catholic parish school, from kindergarten through 8th grade (well, 8M has only gotten to 5th grade so far, but he's a bright lad, and I have every confidence in him).
And Mrs. Jackson has taught them all. In the 25 years of our association with the school, every other teacher has come and gone, some of them more than once. But only Mrs. Jackson has taught all eight of our kids, beginning with 1F's 4th grade year in 1992-93. She was actually a first-grade teacher in 1F's first-grade year, but that year, there were two first-grade classes, and 1F was in the other one. By the time 1F got to 4th grade, Mrs. Jackson had moved to 4th grade, and she taught 4th grade to all of our kids. 7M actually had her for two years, since she moved from 4th grade to 5th the same time he did. And now she's taught 8M, completing the set, the first, and most likely only, member of that club (there is another woman, who has taught middle-school literature to our first seven kids; she wasn't on the staff this past year, but I'm told she would love to return, so that book has not been finally and definitively closed, just yet; we shall see). Not, you know, that it's such a great honor as all that. . .
She hasn't tended to be the most beloved of all the teachers at the school. She has a straightforward, no-nonsense demeanor that can be intimidating or off-putting, until you get to know her. And you can believe me, that, her having taught all eight of our children, we've had no lack of opportunity to get to know her. Even so, it was apparent to Jen and me early on that, whatever the qualities of her personality, she was a teacher of rare ability, who often saw things in our kids that we had only vaguely noticed, and she helped us to deal constructively with some problems we had struggled with. She is a rare gem of a teacher, and we have been fortunate, indeed, to have benefitted from her influence.
Jen asked all our kids to write a single sentence describing their experience of Mrs. Jackson, which we will present to her as a token of our gratitude. I reproduce those brief encomia herewith:
1F - "She was my favorite teacher, because she encouraged creativity and critical thinking."
2F - "When she corrected me, she did it in a way that made me feel better about myself, without softening the correction."
3M - "We disliked each other strongly; yet, after A YEAR together, she still found it in her heart to not only continue teaching, but to go through 5 MORE of my siblings! That is the epitome of dedication to one's craft."
4M - "The first (only?) teacher to connect my Religion grade with my actual behavior - 'Do you behave like a Christian?'"
5M - "She helped immensely with my social development by alerting me to personal hygiene issues."
6F - "She cared about my emotional well-being at a time when our family was going through extreme trauma. But she didn't baby me; I still had to behave."
7M - "She was probably the best teacher I ever had. I just didn't know it at the time. She deserves an award for having to deal with all of us. . ."
8M - "She put up with my ADD, and helped me learn a lot even in spite of it."
So, thank you, Mrs. Jackson. You've been a boon to our family. You're one in a million. . .