The New Kid


I met Lindsey at a craft fair, where she was browsing with her two daughters. She teared up as she talked about the presence and compassion of Mrs. Donaldson, her fourth grade teacher.

My family moved from Virginia to Florida in the middle of my fourth grade year. I had always been in the same, small school, and I was anxious about going to a new one. I suppose I had the same worries all new kids do: What if I get lost? Will anyone sit with me at lunch? Will I be left out at recess? Fortunately, Mrs. Donaldson understood what it was like to be a new kid, and she had a plan.

When I arrived to Mrs. Donaldson’s classroom that first morning, she had a seat ready for me. She introduced me to Monica, who she chose to be my guide. She explained that Monica would help me follow procedures, navigate the campus, and most importantly, sit with me at lunch. It was as if Mrs. Donaldson anticipated my fears and addressed every one. Monica took her job very seriously, and she thoroughly explained everything.

When it was time for lunch, Monica helped me through the line and even provided a review of the selections on the menu. She introduced me to the other girls at the table and launched into a lecture about the mean older kids I should avoid. At recess, Monica made sure I was included in kick ball and showed me where to find the jump ropes.

I recall Mrs. Donaldson checking on me throughout the day, but she seemed to understand the power of kids teaching kids. Both Monica and I benefited from our relationship. I became more comfortable, and Monica became more confident. Monica and I are still close friends, and we fondly remember our year in Mrs. Donaldson’s class.

Lindsey’s story reminded me that teacher impact is often subtle. Teachers make an impact by noticing needs and then creating conditions in which students take the lead. When did a teacher allow you to be the giver or receiver of assistance? Share in the comments below.

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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