Good Morning, Sunshine…
Title – Good Morning, Sunshine…
By – Rhea
As an educator, I often reflect upon the experiences I had as a student myself. One teacher in particular changed my life. I will be forever grateful to her. Her inspiration not only changed my life, but I am certain saved it.
It was my fifth grade year – a pivotal year – a disheartening year. I was ten years old, and as usual excited for the new school year to begin. Who would my teacher be? Would my best friend be in my class? Would I like my teacher? The flood of excitement overwhelmed me as it had every year since I had begun school. I loved school. I could never understand those who didn’t. Little did I know, this year would be different. The year started off well enough. My teacher, Mrs. A, was a stern woman, though not unusually stern. She taught. I learned. Then about six weeks into the school year, the cruelty began. I could never really understand, what changed. Looking back, I still can’t pinpoint her reasons of disdain for me. Mrs. A seemed to find joy in humiliating me in front of the class, calling me stupid, sloppy, ugly. I had always had good grades. Suddenly the A’s turned to C’s, and the B’s to D’s. I would cry and try to perfect every assignment, to meet Mrs. A’s standards, always doing my best. I found myself often recruiting help from my parents at times for their critique and opinions to be certain that it was exceptional. Mrs. A. never thought so, and would often mock me or accuse me of having someone do my work for me.
Month by month, the dark cloud over me grew. Until, by mid-year, Mrs. A’s attitude began to affect my friendships with my classmates. They began to fear that if they were friends with me she would treat them as she did me. My best friend’s mother learned of her behaviour and transferred her to the other fifth grade class. I was alone. I was depressed. I hated school now. I didn’t care about anything, not even my own life. I thought it was better to end it than to face the humiliation at the hand of the person I trusted so much to teach me and nurture my dreams. I had thought all weekend of different ways in which to take my life, but planned to wait until the next weekend to follow through. I didn’t really WANT to die, but as a child, I didn’t have the ability to see the end of the tunnel. The torment seemed eternal. I told myself, that if one person showed me kindness I wouldn’t do it.
Monday, morning I arrived at school early for choir practice, which started forty-five minutes prior to the usual school day. I walked down the hall toward the music room. I dreaded the day while deep in thought and watched the floor as I plodded. Then, from up ahead of me, I heard a cheerful singing voice “Good morning, Sunshine!” I stopped. I looked up and recognized one of the sixth grade teachers smiling brightly at me. She didn’t know me. I only knew her by name… Mrs. Jordan. She was kind to me.
I continued on through the school year, but every Monday and Wednesday, on my way to choir, there she was with her “Good morning, Sunshine,” directed at me. She was a dose of hope in those long months before school ended that year. She kept me going. The following year, I was less enthusiastic for school to start. It had taken me all summer to recuperate from the stress of the previous year. I still felt downtrodden and had lost my zeal for school. Still, I had hope that this year would be better. On that first day of school, I headed into the fifth and sixth grade hall, looking at the name list for each class; there were three teachers for the sixth grade. I was not on the first list. Nor the second list. Before I reached the final door, I heard a voice. “Good morning Sunshine!” There in the class of Mrs. Kathy Jordan was my name. As she greeted me, she put her arm around my shoulder and said, “I’ve heard a lot about you.” My heart sank… and then she whispered… “Don’t worry, I don’t belief a single word of it. Welcome to the sixth grade.”
I have often wondered what happened to Mrs. Jordan. We shared a wonderful year with her. Our class loved her, and she taught us to love each other too. I moved away the following year, but
I will always remember the hope that one teacher unknowingly gave to me…
If you are out there Mrs. J., Thank You! You gave me the chance to be a better person, and wife, a mother, and an educator to the children that so many have given up on or forgotten. You are still an inspiration to me every single day. God bless you!