Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Prayer to My Child’s First Teacher

By on September 1, 2011

I had almost forgotten what it felt like to wait with anticipation for the name of my teacher to be posted on a school window. This year, however, I waited for the first time by the side of my entering Kindergartener. When the school finally posted the list, his little finger dragging down the glass searching for his name amongst a line of others, the anticipation was shared. Ah, there it was.

I know nothing about the woman; all we have is a name. But we love her already. It’s amazing how so many hopes and dreams become immediately attached to a name. This year, I will remember what this feels like in my own teaching more than ever because of what I’m going through as a parent.

It’s as if all questions of educational policy and policy reform go out the window when you are staring down your own kid’s first day of school. Sure I know that the system is cracked and broken. Sure I know that the teachers face challenges and funding issues and problems beyond their control. But for one child and his mom, anyway, it’s all about this woman, her name, and my prayer:

May you see him for whom he is. He is a kid who makes an adult think, but that comes at a price. He can have that conversation full of deep thoughts and questions; unfortunately he can’t seem to stop himself from having that conversation with you, even when you are busy talking to others.

May you forgive him his trespasses. Sure, he can go over to the Dark Side sometimes, but sometimes his audience likes those who are willing to go there, and I hope that you can help make the Side of the Force just as attractive.

May you find ways to allow us to help you. A real terror for a parent is that with the onset of school, all knowledge of your kid’s day stops. I wish I could be a fly on the wall witnessing all of his successes. I also wish to know about his key failures so that we can follow through with consequences at home. We’ve got your back.

May you give him opportunities to test out his leadership and his ability to follow.

May you let him name a chicken and clean out the coop.

May you let him be line leader and bring up the rear.
May he not totally strip down when using the john, and if he does, please know that we’re working on that at home too.

May you realize that while he talks a lot about TV, he doesn’t watch it nearly as much as he talks about it.

May you not let him play before he finishes his lunch. He’s a really slight dude and could use the nutrition. He just finds talking more interesting than eating, and then it’s too late, and the world is moving on around him.

May you enjoy his laughter, questions, thinking, dreams, expressions, gestures, monologues, un-rhythmic dancing (I point a finger at my husband for that one), impersonations, connections, and curiosity as much as we do.

May he not get lost amongst the carpet squares of large-class sizes.

May your smile light up his morning, as I hope his does yours.

May each time his hand goes up, you know it will be a contribution that will help propel the conversation. I make no promises, but I pray that will be the case.

May you catch when someone does something unkind to him, and praise him for handling it well.

May you catch if he does something unkind to someone, for he is a child who feels regret, and he doesn’t like the feeling in his heart when he’s hurt someone.

May you praise his uniqueness, for that will one day be his superpower, even if his penmanship may not be.

May you be the first of a long line of teachers that he loves and remembers for years to come. May you give him the start of a beautiful relationship with school and with education, one that sees him through frustrations with authority figures that one day he will just have to deal with. For now, however, he’s building up the memories of those who love him and care for him, and you are the first in that foundation.

May we be able to work together to help this young man in his relationships with people, with learning, and with himself.

May you have a wonderful year with our son. He is our joy and we trust you with him.

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  1. Jane
    September 1, 2011

    Wonderful prayer for any teacher! Next year I will be saying it for Bryce. There is just something magical about kindergarten and the people that choose to teach it. Have a great year Heather, your students are lucky to have you! May my son’s have a middle school teacher that understand and celebrates who they are just like you!

  2. Sabine McKenna
    September 1, 2011

    Thank you, Heather – as teachers, we should always be aware of the impact we have on the children, but this was a beautiful reminder, just in case we sometimes forget!

    PS: I love the background illustration!

  3. Susan Parks
    September 1, 2011

    Well said, Heather! You know I taught K, had my own kids and their K experience and last year a granddaughter in K right here in town! Your son’s schooling experiences will change you in ways you could not anticipate and you will be better for it. I hope you will share this with his teacher, who now has a face to go with the name!

  4. Heather
    September 2, 2011

    You so beautifully put into words how every parent feels!

  5. Mimi
    September 10, 2011

    Thank you for this beautifully written reminder that every child in our classroom carries with them a unique story and their parents’ hopes and prayers.

  6. Corby Kissling
    December 15, 2011

    This is amazing and really hits home as both a teacher and a parent of a 1st grader. Thank you for so eloquently expressing the garbled mess of emotions in a parent’s head on the first day of school. 🙂

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