In my youth my favorite person outside of the immediate family was Mrs. Jenks. She was my first teacher in that one-room school, Chain O’ Lakes school. Mrs. Jenks was about 30 years old, and she wore the prettiest shoes. She had hair that always looked the same day after day. She commanded a controlled but loving classroom and taught all eight grades. She taught me how to read.
When Chain O’ Lakes closed after my sixth year in school, Mrs. Jenks was not without a job. She went into town and taught second grade for many years after that. It was she whom I consulted about teaching and her advice to me was, “Karyl, don’t ever teach for money. Teach because you have a passion to improve the lives you teach.” I’ve never forgotten her advice. When I entered my own classrooms, I remembered Mrs. Jenks, her pretty shoes, and her winning ways, and most of all, her passion to improve others.
All of my teaching years were spent in Christian Education in church-sponsored schools. When I see the school bus pass by my house at 7:30 each morning, and again at 3:30 in the afternoon, I wonder what those children have learned. Did they have a Mrs. Jenks teaching them; did they have a teacher who did not teach for money but just for the sheer love of imparting knowledge and character?
We all had such love and respect for Mrs. Jenks. She stopped teaching in my fourth grade year because she had a baby and I had Miss Kolka. She was very tall, blond, and I remember that I liked and respected her too. Then in the fifth grade, we had a grumpy teacher, Mrs. Hires. I remember doing pages and pages of long division problems and Mrs. Hires was not energetic like Mrs. Jenks and Miss Kolka. Now when I look back on it, she was near retirement age. She lacked patience and had no passion. She did her job methodically and we learned. In sixth grade, Mrs. Jenks returned. Her feet were still clad in pretty colored wedged shoes and her perfect penmanship filled the chalkboards that surrounded the front of the room.
School bells, busses, lunch boxes, crayons—I miss it. God meant for me to teach. It comes out of me naturally. This morning I will teach one of my three devotional groups. I’ll teach God’s Word as God has taught me. If it does not touch me first, it cannot touch others. We will sing and we will pray. Like Mrs. Jenks advised me, I will teach with passion to impart truth. For many years I have depended on II Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.” I am happy to say that students I have taught are now teacher others, in fact, they have students they taught who are now teaching. It started with Mrs. Jenks.
Addendum: Parents, press upon your students the need for respect for your teachers, whether that teacher is in the classroom, Sunday school classroom, or on a video in live streaming on a computer screen, if they do not respect the teacher, that teacher cannot do all for the students that she could do otherwise. A teachable spirit is so important. Parents have a vital role to work alongside every teacher whether they wear pretty shoes or not.