Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It All Started in 3rd Grade: A Tribute to a Forever Friendship

Sometimes the best memories we have of school do not involve our teachers, the careful lessons they planned for us, or what we learned. Oftentimes, it is the people sitting next to us in the classroom that touch our lives in more ways than one. I was lucky enough to have met my particularly special classmate back in 1992 in Mrs. Mattson's third grade classroom. Her name is Julia, and she quickly became the best friend I could ever ask for.

Back then, I had no idea how a single person could touch my life or what it meant to truly be called a "best" friend. Julia became like the sister I never had and always wanted. She taught me more about life, patience, empathy, and leading others than I could have ever learned in a classroom. She inspired me to be a better person and to always see the best in others, even when I least wanted to do so.

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of being Julia's Matron of Honor at her wedding and watching her marry a wonderful man and the love of her life of over eleven years. After all the grieving over my aunt's passing, this moment became a welcome bright spot in my life. There is nothing quite like seeing two people madly in love make the commitment to each other for "all the days of their lives" and say yes to eternal love. It is always a joy and miracle to witness firsthand. 

Why am I talking about Julia on my blog about teaching? It's quite simple. Like my Aunt Ellen, Julia has always been one of my greatest life teachers, someone who always guides me in the right direction and lends the kind of accepting ear when I need it the most. I consider myself blessed to have met Julia so early on in my life and even more grateful for the forever friendship we now share -- and always will cherish.

I recently told my students about Julia and how much she means to me. I asked them to think about who their true friends are and told them never to take any of them for granted. Even though they are only 14 years old, I think my students are beginning to see what really matters in friendships and the importance of seeking out others who bring out the best in themselves.

Moreover, Julia is an extremely talented children's book illustrator who has already experienced much success in her blossoming, beginning career. She is a gem to know and a brilliant artist. Please visit her website to see what she has published and what is forthcoming: 

Now, I would like to share with you some of the speech I wrote for Julia and shared at the wedding on Saturday:

I distinctly remember sitting in Mrs. Mattson's 3rd grade class at Highland Elementary School and noticing a new girl in town. Though she was quite smaller in stature than me, something prompted me to eloquently say to her, "I like your pencil pouch." Luckily, Julia accepted my compliment, and I'd like to think she agreed to come over my house for more reason other than to escape her four siblings. Despite the fact that I initially called her "Julia Dones," Julia and I formed an unbreakable bond of friendship then, eighteen years ago.

From the start, I learned a great deal from this eldest member of the "Dones" family who possessed such a calming, reassuring demeanor and the ability to lead by example and draw anything -- and I mean, anything -- with grace and ease. From endless sleepovers, trips to Maine, and summer camps to Dodd Middle School, color guard, Cheshire High, and into the real world of adulthood, Julia has been my rock, my confidant, my mentor, and my best friend through it all. 

As if Julia herself was not an incredible addition to my life, along came Mr. Matthew Perlot, a man I still enjoy calling "Beef" after a hilarious incident with a main course at his junior prom in 1999. I distinctly remember when Julia and Matt first met at the Cheshire Youth Center at our Sweet 16th Birthday. Even though their first dance did not work out as planned at this festivity (As the great Mr. Denos would say, "Whoops!"), Julia and Matt had found each other. As their relationship progressed and love deepened, I felt privileged to witness it all. They were clearly a perfectly matched pair and the most artistic couple at CHS, making Mrs. Benarcryk, of course, proud.

Yes, Julia found her soul mate over eleven years ago, and it has been an absolute honor to call both Julia and Matt close friends and integral parts of my life. Their natural artistry, creativity, passion, love, kindness, patience, and zest for life is infectious and admirable to everyone around them. Very few childhood memories of mine exist without Julia, and I cannot wait to see what new adult memories we create together with our spouses and each other. Thank you for sharing my childhood, Julia, and for always being the best friend anyone could ever ask for. Matt is certainly one lucky man. Greg and I love you both immensely. 

Now, please raise your glasses in honor of a true match made in heaven who finally got their proper first dance. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Perlot!


Let's here it for forever friendship that all started in a simple elementary school classroom! I can only hope that my own students find this kind of irreplaceable bond with their peers.

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