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Lives are profoundly affected by teachers. They inspire, encourage, energize, and illuminate the hearts and minds of so many. They give of themselves to enrich the hopes and dreams of others. This book is a way to give something back -- it's a hug of appreciation and admiration for teachers and their gift of teaching.
The pages of this book are filled with a great many hugs that express the warmest love and appreciation for all that teachers do to shape the hearts, minds, and souls of our children. Martha McKee, herself a teacher for thirty-eight years, shares true stories of teachers impacting the lives of students for eternity. You'll also find heartwarming messages by Caron Loveless that will fill teachers' hearts with courage and confidence and the knowledge that they are loved and needed. Personalized Scriptures by LeAnn Weiss and uplifting quotes round out this beautiful book, forming enduring hugs to bless every teachers heart.
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Martha McKee has thirty-eight years of experience as a school teacher. A sought-after speaker, McKee shares her wisdom and wit with audiences across the South. She was selected Teacher of the Year in Burleson, Texas, and has received numerous awards throughout her career.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A Whole New World
“Mrs. Shearin wants you to come to her room. Hurry!”Marcy was out of breath from running when she appeared in myoffice door at the small private school where I was thecurriculum coordinator. I quickly followed her through thelibrary and down the elementary hall to Mrs. Shearin’ssecond-grade room. Marcy opened the door, and we stepped into aclassroom frozen in awe.
Nine students stood motionless behind their desks facing thereading table in the back corner. No one moved or looked in ourdirection as we softly closed the door. A child’s voicesmoothly intoning sentence after sentence—never missing aword—was the only sound in the room. The other children,still seated at the reading table, were no longer looking attheir books but were watching in amazement as their classmateread the text flawlessly. Mrs. Shearin glanced at me with anastonished expression, nodded toward the reader, and turned herattention quickly back to her manual.
The reader was Allen, a child who entered our school after havingattended five other schools in the previous two years. Hisrecords showed excessive absences, poor academic progress, andfrequent discipline problems. His mother had pleaded for hisadmittance, citing his needs to be in a stable atmosphere and tomake friends who were interested in learning. After promising tocooperate with the staff during his adjustment period and makinga commitment to his regular attendance, his mother’s requestwas granted.
The first few weeks were difficult. Sheri Shearin was known as aconsistent, loving but firm disciplinarian whose goal wasrestoring children to productive learning. Allen stretched all ofthese qualities to the extreme. In the beginning, he wouldsometimes get so frustrated with schoolwork that he blurted outwords that would normally evoke a swift and severe reprimand. Butinstead, Sheri would call him to her desk, put her arm around himand say, “Those words are just not tolerated in this school.When you don’t know what to do, raise your hand andI’ll help you. Now, tell me what you are going to do thenext time you feel like that.” After he rehearsed thecorrect procedure, Sheri would assure him that she loved him andbelieved in his ability to do the right thing. The rest of theclass would listen to the softly spoken exchange with raptattention, knowing that they would never get off that easy. Onhis third day, he punched a third grader in the stomach atrecess, and his absence for the remainder of the school day wasgreeted with sighs of relief.
Sheri knew that she could not effect lasting changes in Allenwithout the understanding and cooperation of his classmates. Shealso knew that if they could accept him, honor his good points,and love him in spite of his difficult behavior, they wouldbenefit even more than Allen.
Negotiating a fine line between giving Allen the attention heneeded and breeding jealousy in the other students, Sheri madetime for celebrating the uniqueness and individual successes ofeach child in the class, and the students responded with newlevels of appreciation for each other. She worked hard toorchestrate chances for Allen to be successful in the eyes of theother students. She used Bible stories to teach forgiveness andcompassion. She created an atmosphere in which Allen feltaccepted—even when he returned from one of his frequenttrips to the principal for infractions committed outside theclassroom. Students who grumbled at his inattention and slowresponses were quietly encouraged to be patient and helpful.Parents who asked about the new boy or volunteered in the roomwere drawn into the loving-socialization-of-Allen process. Sherimolded her class into a loving community every way she knew how.
Allen had just as much trouble academically as he did socially.He struggled with simple addition problems, his spelling wasatrocious, and understanding the concepts of social studies wasalmost beyond his grasp. Including Allen in whole-group learningslowed the class down so much that sighs of impatience wereregularly heard from the other students. Whenever he was asked togive an answer, everyone had to wait for him to be shown the pagethe class was on. But nothing seemed to frustrate Allen more thanhis difficulty with reading. When his turn came in the readingcircle, he would stammer and stutter and his face would turn redas he struggled with all his might to make out the words. Of allthe things he failed at, it seemed that he wanted to succeed atreading most of all.
And now, Marcy and I stood dumbfounded as we listened to Allenreading flawlessly from his second-grade reader. He wasenraptured by the story of a little boy who had a new pair ofmoccasins. Maybe he felt an affinity for the boy in the story.Maybe his intense desire to read brought all his skills intofocus. Maybe the love and acceptance of his teacher andclassmates had finally translated into enough self-esteem for himto believe that he could read just as well as his classmates.Whatever the reason, the moment was magic—to Allen, to Mrs.Shearin, to his classmates, and to me.
Allen finished the story and turned to look at Mrs. Shearin, whohad tears streaming down her smiling cheeks. She threw her armsaround him in a hug of celebration. That is when the applausebegan.
I’d never seen anything like it before, and I’ve neverseen anything like it since. All Allen’s classmates wereapplauding, and one by one, the remaining seated students rose totheir feet to give him a unanimous standing ovation. When histeacher released him, Allen stood beside his chair and boweddeeply—something he had seen a soloist do at a musicalperformance just last week. That was when the cheering began.
Allowing the noise to die away naturally, Sheri joined me at thefront of the room to watch, as each student congratulated Allen.One of the best readers in the class told him, “I want toread that story again. You made it sound better than when I readit myself.”
That day was a watershed for Allen. With his confidence soaring,his reading skills developed rapidly. His self-control and socialskills improved steadily, in spite of occasional lapses. Hegained a whole year on his skills tests during the secondsemester alone.
Mrs. Shearin’s students experienced firsthand thetransforming power of kindness and compassion, and one more childstepped out of confinement and into a whole new world ofpossibilities.
Lord, let me be a
Conduit of love and confidence
To children who have known nothing but defeat.
Use me to help each child uncover
The gifts you have placed within.
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