The teacher can make the biggest difference

Author: Zuzana Gaborova/Vera Ivicova
Location: Brno
Today Vera came to my office on her own to tell me about something that happened when she was little. She had forgotten about it, but she remembered today because her son had got into a similar situation – but we don’t know what will happen with him, so she’ll tell me that story later.
Vera took her favorite place on a little step under the window. This has the advantage of allowing her to see the whole office without necessarily being seen by anyone coming in. I think this says a lot about her: she has a clear view of everything without letting anybody see her.
"I’ll tell you a story from my childhood, from when I started to go to school. The school was called the Elementary School by the Red Houses – and there really were some red houses nearby: they looked Finnish.
I liked it at school. My older brother was a seventh-grader and I had a great teacher who had noticed my talent in gym. She insisted that I participate in a class she gave on rhythmic exercise, and was very enthusiastic about my performance.
But one unpleasant thing happened. It was already dark, about four or five in the afternoon, and I had been anxious on the way to the school It was quite far from my home, and I was terrified by the time I got there.
I was two or three minutes late. The teacher and all the other kids were already in the gym.
In front of the gym there was a large double door, and there were four or five boys by it. They seemed big to me, though I don’t remember what grade they were.
They told me they wouldn’t let me in , and they started to push me around. ‘We won’t let any Gypsy in.’
I had never encountered anything like this before. Nobody had ever attacked me for being this or for not being that.
I wouldn’t put up with it. Even though I was scared – they were surrounding me – I told them I would tell the teacher. So I squatted down and waited the whole hour for the teacher to come out of the gym.
They didn’t attack me physically, but I was really scared of them.
Then the teacher and the kids came out of the gym. She was surprised to see me sitting there crying.
I told her everything. Of course the guys ran off, but she saw them through the long glass windows of the corridor.
She calmed me down and told me not to worry: the problem would be solved.
And in fact the next day she came to our class with the guys, and in front of everybody they had to say what they had done, what they had said. And they had to apologize.
I didn’t really think much of their apology. I had expected that the teacher would slap them or pull their ears. I was mad at them. I couldn’t understand how such big boys – or any boys – would take such liberties with a little girl.
But since that happened, the teacher watched over me the whole time. I became her favorite.
A teacher can make a big difference for a child: she can prevent trauma from happening. If my teacher didn’t do what she did, it would have happened again. I’m very grateful to her.”
I agree with Vera. The teacher can make the biggest difference. Teaching isn’t a job: it’s a vocation.

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