A Way With Words


I met Jordan on a college campus where she was studying English Literature. Her quiet thoughtfulness led to a poignant conversation about Mrs. Arbor, her fifth-grade teacher.

I am the youngest of four children. Growing up, my sister was a gifted pianist, and both of my brothers excelled in sports. I was quiet and preferred reading to performing on a stage or field. At home, I always felt left out and left behind. Mrs. Arbor’s class was the one place I felt special. Mrs. Arbor loved the same books I did, and we would sit and talk about the characters and themes. She often recommended new titles she thought I would enjoy.

On conference night, I sat between Mrs. Arbor and my parents, prepared for the usual explanation of test scores and grades. Instead, Mrs. Arbor pulled out a folder full of my written responses to the books I read. She told my parents that I was very insightful for my age. She pointed out my choice of words and phrases and complimented my ability to express my thoughts in writing. When the conference was over, I practically floated out of the room.

Mrs. Arbor took every opportunity to highlight my strengths in notes and phone calls to my parents. She didn’t see my introverted nature as a disadvantage; she saw it as a gift. Her compliments facilitated the one thing I craved most, praise from my parents. Like most quiet kids, I was easily overlooked in a group, but Mrs. Arbor made the effort to see me.

Jordan’s story made me think about the gifts hidden inside every student.  Teachers who make an impact on us focus on identifying and highlighting our strengths. They reveal each student’s best self and celebrate that individuality. When did a teacher make you feel known and appreciated just as you are? Share in the comments below.

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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