The Educator

n 1975,  homeschool education entered our little family.  We lived a mere two blocks from the public school but decided to keep our little one home a bit longer.  My friend, Margaret, taught high school science in the same school but she warned me about the Kindergarten teacher and advised we keep David home.  Frankly, Margaret said “She needs to find another job.”

Our homeschooling lasted one semester!  That is the sum total of my experience as a homeschool mom.  We moved from Minnesota to Indiana and our new church had a Christian school.  I looked forward to staying at home with my two girls.  That didn’t happen.  My teaching degree put me into classroom teaching once again, and it never stopped for the next 18 years.

Each of my three children attended the same school in which I taught.  We had the same days off and it worked.  It was a “fit” for us.

Most of the states in our country allow parents the choice to educate their children at home, in a church-sponsored education program, a Christian academy or in public education. Rightly so.  Although in most counties a property tax is levied to pay for public education, it is also funded by the State and Federal government.

I own my house.  I pay property taxes.  About 75% of my property tax goes to my local school district.

Where is this going?  Now, I’ll complain.  My love for learning and education has never stopped.  Teaching seems to curse through my veins.  So, I offer a tutoring service.  This week, a guidance counselor from a local school wrote me quite an insulting e mail.  You see, I have tutored, once a little boy in the 5th grade to now a strapping football player in the 9th grade.  As has been my practice every year, I write a letter of introduction to his teachers and let them know that I help him study and see that he does his homework.  This counselor told me that the classroom teacher was very capable of giving all assistance.

In all fairness, I showed the e mail to his grandmother, who is also his legal guardian. She depends on me to see that he does his work and stays on A/B honor roll.  It did not go well.  “I know what is best for my grandson and she is not going to make me stop using you to tutor.”  Final.

This is one example of government controlled schools.  This guidance counselor has never met my student.  She is not aware of the emotional struggle this child still endures as the result of an abusive stepfather.  She does not see the human, loving side of this strapping football player who sometimes sheds tears because he worries about his younger sister.  I do.  I sometimes cry with him, and I pray with him, and I pray for him.

To the government, even the local government, he is a number.  One of thirty in a classroom.  To me he is clay to shape into success.

The fact is, that’s how I looked at the students in my classrooms over the years.  That’s why sometimes after school someone would drop into my room and see me sitting in a student desk.  I wanted to remember how it felt.  I wanted to imagine myself as a student sitting in that desk listening to—me!

Everyone has a story.  Just one more.  Today I interviewed a potential student whom I might be able to help.  He is a sweet little seven-year old with his top front teeth missing.  He also uses a walker.  His mother, a clinician who works in a local laboratory, told me a story.  Last year his teacher, in the first grade, at a local public school, took his walker away from him as a punishment.  I could not hide my shock. One thing I immediately understood from that story was that she was looking for someone to tutor him, yes; but also looking for someone with compassion.  After all, education is more than letters, numbers, history, and science.  It is learning at the hand of an educator who initiates curiosity, and then fills the mind with worthwhile facts.  An educator who shows forth both habits and heart to imitate.

He starts next Tuesday.

“Of some have compassion, making a difference. . .”  Jude 1:22

When I stop making a positive difference in the lives that surround me, I hope the Lord carries me Home.





1 Comment

  1. Glenda

    Oh, Karyl!! You have brought tears to my eyes! The very thought that a teacher could be so insensitive tells me that some teachers are in the WRONG profession. I know it’s difficult having so many students in a classroom, but I also know of many teachers who do wonderfully with each student, learning the names and a bit of their background. It’s true that it takes extra time to go that extra distance, but the result is well worth the effort, when you consider the long-range outlook for those young people. Those whom you tutor are blessed to have you on their team, and I KNOW that God is using you in ways you might not even realize. It’s impossible to measure a child’s self-esteem and feeling of worth. You are shaping the future for those young people AND for our nation because you never know whom they might meet along the way. Good for you!!! 🙂

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