A picture keeps popping up in my mind as we near the start of school. It’s a colorful image of my oldest son at five years old. He is standing tall in the flower section of the grocery store, holding tight to a bunch of roses and a big bag of cookies. It is the night before his last day of daycare and just a few days from his first day of Kindergarten.
The flowers and cookies are for his teacher. She was the first teacher he was absolutely, totally in love with. I’m sure the love stemmed from many tiny instances of care and compassion he experienced during that year in her classroom. There were small moments, like the daily hugs received as he entered and exited the room. And there were larger moments, like the first day he walked in with hearing aids, and the teacher welcomed him into the circle and invited his friends to see the new devices that were going to help him be a bigger part of the classroom. I’ll never forget seeing the children scoot up close to look at him, and, under her guidance, tell him how excited they were for his new “super-ears.”
Teachers, particularly ones that work with such a young age, can be seen as superheroes by their students. And this hero status is what leads to a tiny five-year-old standing tall in a flower section, holding tight to the most precious gift he can give. That teacher was my son’s hero, because she showed him that even in a challenging classroom environment, he was seen, and he mattered.
This month begins a transition into the most challenging experience teachers have ever faced. Even if they are seeing their students in person, they are seeing them behind masks and at arm’s length. I can imagine many teachers are longing to be able to reach out and hug their students on the first day of school and tell them everything is going to be alright.
But even when this is not possible, I have extraordinary faith in teachers to find a way to still show all students that they are seen and that they matter. After all, God has called teachers each to this vocation, and I believe God knows exactly what God is doing. So, let us pray for teachers as we begin this year, that God may grace them with the vision and the fortitude needed to navigate these ever-changing circumstances. And may God remind them daily that they have superhero status in the eyes of children—and in the eyes of the children’s parents as well.