Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dreams Do Come True..

Cindi and Lisa, around 1967 (Lisa's the cute one on the right.)

I have made no secret of the fact that I never planned to become a teacher. That epiphany hit me around my sophomore year of college. Up until that point I was busy trying to hone my cheerleading skills so that I could travel to Dallas and audition to wear a vest with fringe. My sister, though, now she's another story.

Lisa had one of those horrid first grade teachers that make children cry when they wake up in the morning; they don't want to go to school! Among other things, Lisa, an extremely left-handed left-hander, was made to write with her right hand - and was ridiculed when she tried otherwise. (She is now a fifty-year-old left-hander; the teacher did not win this one!) After many complaints for various reasons (I remember my mother heading to the school on more than one occasion to talk to the principal), Miss White left the building. Enter Miss Kilpatrick. She was so lovable that after a couple of years the principal married her. But she also had an impact on my sister: for more years than I can recall, Lisa has wanted to be a teacher.

While I was being scolded by my daddy for doing cheers in front of the one television set in the house, Lisa was lining up her baby dolls to play "Miss Kilpatrick." Whenever I decided to play, too, I was always Miss White, and the baby dolls hated me. It was clear that my sister would become a teacher long before I even had a clue as to my career aspirations.

But as fate would have it, Lisa didn't become a teacher; I did. Although she took course after course in early childhood education, it wasn't to be. Instead she married her high school sweetheart and delivered early, under very scary circumstances, my nephew Cole. Her life took a turn here, and she became the epitome of stay-at-home mom, although she was never at home. Her minivan had about 200,000 miles on it when she finally got rid of it last year, Cole's freshman year in college. Between his birth and college entrance, Lisa was soccer mom and school volunteer, fundraising and answering phones for thirteen years. There were some babies that weren't to be during that time, too...sad circumstances that are still very difficult for her to talk about.

But fast forward to a happier time. Lisa has started her new (and first) teaching job. She will be a preschool teacher in charge of a class of four-year-olds. I just hung up the phone after a conversation with her about the contents of a first day letter to parents. And last week we talked about curriculum. She said things like, "I just want to get on the floor with them and play and learn," and "They're just like sponges at this age. I want to teach them everything!"

They say when one door closes, another one opens. My classroom door is closed this year as I participate in my Teacher of the Year duties. But Lisa's is open. And just three months before her 50th birthday, "Miss Kilpatrick" will finally be in class.

Good luck, Lisa. I've spent my entire career thinking you should take my place. And now you are. Line up those dolls and have a blast! The best is yet to come...

Here we are before the North Carolina Teacher of the Year banquet. See...she's still cute!


kSm said...

What a wonderful story! Very inspirational :)

Lee Higginbotham said...

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