Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Teacher Can Make All the Difference


My mother, Hazel Clark Jacobson was born in 1905 to a family of 10 children. There were four boys (two were babies who died the same week as their mother in the flu epidemic in Star Valley, Wyoming in 1920) and six were girls who all (except one who died as a teenager) became teachers. The oldest sister Hilda vividly remembers the response of her mother when, after graduating from the 8th grade she announced that she was planning to stay home and help with their large farm and her nine younger brothers and sisters. The High School was 30 miles away which meant being away from the family for weeks at a time as their only mode of transporation was a horse and carriage. Hilda could see that it would be hard to manage without her help.

Her mother firmly rejected that idea and said, “In twenty years, no one will remember whether our floors got cleaned and the cows were milked but no one will ever forget the lives you will change if you get a good education and become a teacher” 

She was right! Not only did she go on to get a teaching degree, but her younger sisters all followed in her footsteps. No one will ever know the long term positive effects that those sisters, who all became excellent teachers, have had in the lives of literally thousands of elementary school children.

Look at this fun picture of my mom with her school class in 1934 when she was 29 years old in Star Valley Wyoming and the following ones taken throughout her teaching career (she’s the tall girl with the long hair on the back row below).

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I can say it now because she and all her sisters have passed on and they would agree anyway, that my mom was the star when it came to teaching! When I return to my little hometown in Montpelier, Idaho where she taught for many years, someone always comes up to me and says that my mom changed his/her life because of her positive encouragement to do their best and be their best. It was part of the fabric of the classroom as well as a genuine love for each of the kids, sometimes especially “the hard ones.” Those positive feelings about education were passed from those kids to their kids and it wet on and on. We figured that Mother taught about a thousand kids in the classroom in her forty-five years of teaching! All those who were taught by her, adored her!

Whether is was genes or an innate desire to change the lives of children for good, our oldest son has followed the path of the Clark girls’ excellence in teaching! Besides being an extraordinary computer guru, Josh worked hare to major in Construction Management at BYU and was on a path of excellence with one of the best construction companies in the country in Washington D.C. when he realized that his destiny was to teach children. He quit his job and went after his dream!

To put many years of teaching in a nutshell, Josh has become an astonishing teacher! He is teaching at a Charter School called American Leadership Academy in Gilbert, Arizona. Every year he goes far beyond the call of duty with so many innovative ideas and ways to help his kids do their very best! He loves the kids and wants them to succeed and they know it! Several times a year he invites his kids and their parents to an astronomy night. He has an excellent telescope and the kids and their parents meet at the school and take turns getting a close-up look at the surface of the moon and some of the planets as well as learning about the universe and beyond as he shares his vast knowledge of the constellations!

Every year he spends countless hours planning a party at the end of the school year. Usually he has the party at Shawni’s house because they have had a nice pool and a fun trampoline. But this year, though they do have an pretty cool indoor trampoline, the pool at new their house, as you can see, is not quite ready yet:

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The kind and generous neighbors across the street offered their back yard for the party with a “wonderland” for kids. Because it was the day after Max’s graduation, we were lucky enough to be there this year to celebrate with them! All but two of the his 30 kids and their parents showed up and had such a great time together!

I got lots of great pictures of the kids and their parents but Josh is very careful about not posting pictures of his class members and parents without getting permission and since I didn’t ask for permission, these are the only ones I got without kids. Note that great waterfall on the left and further over to the left at the deep end by the slide is a built-in jumping platform that the parents supervised from which the children were allowed to jump into the pool from. Josh took his turn jumping too, much to the delight of the kids!

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The parents provided all the great food and skillfully cooked the hamburgers and hot dogs. Everyone had a wonderful time!

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But the best part of the party for Dad/Rick and I was hearing parent after parent literally raving about the difference “Mr. Eyre” has made in the lives of their children:

One dad went on for 10 minutes about how his son would never want to go to school and how he had to drag him out of bed and bribe or force him to go to school every day—until this year when he was lucky enough to be placed in Mr. Eyre’s class.  Now, he says, his son is ready to go early every day, can’t wait to get to school and is always excited to tell him what he learned that day. The mom wanted to take him for a day outing and the boy said “No, I can’t go, I don’t want to miss school because I learn so much every day.”

Another dad said “Mr. Eyre has changed our daughter’s life, and our family’s life!” 

A mom said she had had four of her boys in Josh’s class and that she can’t even calculate how much he has  meant to her sons. She said they all now have what she thinks will be a lifetime love of learning because of “Mr. Eyre.”.

Still another mother mom told us that her daughter now says “I want to be a teacher just like Mr. Eyre so I can help kids like he helps me.”

“We have another daughter whom we hope will get into Mr. Eyres’ class next year,” one mom said. “If she gets Mr. Eyre, we will stay with the school, even though it would be much easier for us to have our children go to the school next to our home in our own neighborhood.  If she doesn’t get into Mr. Eyre’s class, we are changing to our neighborhood school.”

A couple of parents said how great it is that he teaches them how to complement and encourage each other—especially on their birthdays. “Instead of just having the kids eat the cupcakes I brought to celebrate my daughter’s birthday in silence, he had everyone say what they liked best about our daughter. It brought tears to my eyes!”

The compliments flowed like a waterfall all night!

Josh even brought the class ducklings to the party so the parents could see the babies that the kids had watched hatch and had nurtured for the past couple of weeks (no photo permission required on these cute guys)!

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After all the fun swim/trampoline/tennis/basketball activities at the neighbors house the group walked across the street to the Pothier’s house where we watched the most delightful 30 minute slide show of their tremendous year of learning painstakingly prepared by Josh. who is an outstanding photographer. The kids cheered and laughed and sang along with some of the songs as they watched. It was so fun to be there and feel the happiness oozing out everywhere!

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We had brought one of the first editions of Teaching Your Children Responsibility with Josh’s picture on the cover as well as several times inside. The kids were thrilled to receive a personalized copy and  see their teacher when he was their age!

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I love looking back and reminiscing about the teachers who have changed my life. There are several but one very special one, whom I think of him often because he taught me to write (and diagram sentences, and devour the great classics and learn vast numbers of vocabulary words). I can honestly say that he changed my life for the better!

How proud I am to have been raised by a Mother who innately knew how to change lives through education and love and a terrific son who has taken that torch and run ahead with it as he continues to change lives forever! Love you Mr Eyre!

4 comments:

Jenny (also) said...

What a beautiful post! Mr Eyre is carrying on your mother's legacy in the best way possible. I really appreciate that he is a man who has chosen a career in elementary education. As a mom of boys I can confidently state that more men are needed in elementary schools; both as role models and to inform the culture since they were once boys too.

And I love those old photos! The boys in overalls and ties are beyond adorable; I guess most are grandfathers by now.

Kerstin said...

The last picture of your (adult) son has been the most natural and happiest picture I have seen of him. Seems like it's his passion to be a teacher!

Julie said...

Great pix.:)

Just curious, why would Hilda have been away for weeks at a time because they only had a horse & buggy?

Eyrealm said...

Sorry, I didn't explain that very well. The high school was over 30 miles away so it didn't make sense for her to come home more than once a month. It was an arduous journey with a horse and cart or sleigh in the winter with no paved roads. Thanks for asking!