Tuesday, June 2, 2015

the one where she retires

After thirty two years of teaching small children, my Mom retired today. 

Thirty two years. Thirty one of those in the same school, same classroom. 

Her school has always been one of the lowest income schools in the city, which brings along additional challenges. She's personally purchased thousands of dollars worth of Angel Tree gifts over the years for kids in her school. For years she wrote a letter to each new student in her class; hundreds of kids in the area received their first piece of mail from Mrs. Breese. She let kids know that they mattered.

She demanded a lot from her students. Good behavior, listening, and basic manners were expected. Her "teacher look" terrified many a child (or unruly adult) into realizing that someone expected more out of them. She taught kids to realize that their actions mattered.

She made learning fun. Kindergarteners filled the hallways each January during Chinese New Year with their paper dragon and noise makers. They ate with chopsticks, did fun science experiments, and always had a classroom that was decorated with whatever theme they were learning about. She showed kids that learning wasn't limited to books and papers.

She's held students having seizures, bloody noses, and (basically) severed fingers. She's wiped noses, washed hands, and applied sunscreen for students. She let students know that someone would always be there for them.

She's taught the children of her former students. She's taught my friends...and most likely one of your friends, too. She's taught interns and acted as a mentor to her colleagues. She has single-handily  impacted hundreds of people in Northwest Arkansas.

You made a difference even when you didn't think so, Mom. 
Thank you.