Teachers: Heroes of the Small

By Sabine Ehgoetz

The other day, during dinner time, my two 3-year-olds all of a sudden started singing to me in French. It took me about five minutes and a lot of digging through the remote corners of my brain until I understood what the song was about. Most of all, I wished that:
1. I had paid more attention way back in French class, and
2. my French studies had been as playful as my children’s at their Montessori school.

You see, they are taught by a lovely Madame, who wraps any vocabulary that needs to be learned into some tune or story that her pupils always listen to – captivated, from what I have witnessed.

Equally popular is their gym teacher, a lady whom I believe to be Muslim, since she always wears a scarf over her hair with her normal exercise attire. It may be thanks to her that my boys picked up some words in a language I have not quite identified yet but which sounds somewhat Arabic. One of my son’s classroom teachers is Italian, and although the school year only began a couple months ago, my son already knows to count from uno to dieci, and now says “mangiare” instead of “eating”.

Their absolute favourite teacher is one they met during their first two years in their toddler class, and although I could tell you she is of Spanish descent, more importantly she appears to be an angel with a gift and dedication for raising children that is simply extraordinary. Before I knew it, my little ones were not going to school any longer, they were going to “Ama’s house”. Every day, they greeted her with a kiss and a hug before saying hello to any of their friends. They wouldn’t even allow me take them home unless Ama came out to buckle them into their car seats, which she did, every single day, come rain or shine.

What I’m getting at with these examples is this: while my kids are young, and I have no idea what kinds of teachers they may come across later in life, how often they may get grounded or tell me they hate their homework, I can say one thing for certain: The child care professionals they have encountered during this early and so very character-shaping phase of their lives have been nothing less than amazing. Most likely none of these teachers will ever show up in the newspaper or the evening news, not even in the community pages. But the way they help raise the thinkers, revolutionaries and groundbreakers of tomorrow gives me hope that we may all end up in a world that is a little more caring, a little less selfish and a great deal more compassionate than it is today.

Certainly, their pupils learn everything they need to know about becoming good and well-educated Canadians. The teachers may all come from different cultural backgrounds, but they don’t fail to teach their students what this country has to offer in history, customs and national pride. They teach reading, writing, math, science, geography, biology and everything else there is to know. Above and beyond, though, they ingrain in each child the trust that they will be just as well-cared-for in school as they are at home, that they are loved, worthy and respected and that they have a voice, no matter how quiet it may be. I personally don’t believe our school is an exception or better in any way because it is private. I know enough teachers in public schools who show the same dedication and make the same difference. And to stick with the theme: I truly and sincerely believe that our teachers are the heroes of the small, who have great influence in what we can expect from the world of tomorrow.