An Inspiring Teacher Is A Gift

Yesterday I was watching The Talk when a topic came up on the show and in the Tweet Chat about a teacher who made a difference in your life. I have had several great teachers. But as I’m sure is true with you there is a small handful of those who touched your life in such a way that the imprint on your heart is still there. I’m choosing to share this today as my Pour Your Heart Out entry because of that reason. (Come over and share yours too.) School is tough no matter how you look at it. It stretches your mind, your spirit and your self-confidence nearly all the time. Some teachers, for whatever reasons, cause the opposite effect. But certain others provide you with the confidence you need to learn not only THAT material but inspire you to learn for the rest of your life.

One particular teacher fits into that last category for me. I went to a small Christian school, Springfield Christian School in Springfield Ohio, for junior high and half of high school. While in 10th grade Algebra we had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Jutton. She truly loved math. That is beyond my understanding – that she could LOVE math and, well, the math too. But you could tell she loved it. She had that tone in her voice that she was doing something she loved. It’s rare to find teachers who truly LOVE the subject they are teaching. These days so many teachers have to teach more subjects than they certified for because of the lack of funding. But you can tell which teachers are there because teaching is their passion and which ones are there because a paycheck is their passion. Mrs. Jutton was there because teaching math was her passion. And WE were her passion. She loved all of us. It came across in way INSIDE the classroom and OUTSIDE the classroom. She loved her job. She loved her subject and she loved her students. If anyone had a personal problem they went to Mrs. Jutton’s room. She would let you cry. She’d give you advice. She’d pray with you. Then she’d send you on your way with a hug.

The day I’m gonna tell you about will be no surprise to you after what you just read. Because this was in the early 80’s there was no such thing as “teaching to the test” as far as I know. Teacher’s could take their time with their classes and not have to rush through the year to make sure that everyone got all the information on the end of the year standardized tests. Teachers could actually spend a few days on one particular lesson until everyone in the class understood it before going on to the next lesson. (I could jump up on my soapbox here very easily but I will try to hold back.) Making sure that each of the students understand the material is much more important than meeting the expectations of the School Board to produce students who can score high on those standardized tests at the end of the school year so they can get more money. But somewhere between 1980 and 2001 the public school systems have lost sight of that. That has resulted in students graduating but not really understanding much of what they have “learned” in the previous 13 years. The almighty dollar has replaced the whole idea of producing children who are knowledgeable about the world and how it works and who are sufficiently prepared to enter college and begin lifelong careers.

If you walked by any of Mrs. Jutton’s math classes you would see a room full of students with frustrated looks on their faces. But if you look at Mrs. Jutton you would have seen a patient and gentle spirit. She would take as long as was necessary for every person in class to fully understand the material before she would move on. She had a phrase that she would often use that was quite fitting for teaching math. When she could see that we were getting frustrated and upset she would say “Keep the faith”.  She never seemed to be frustrated. She always had a smile on her face. And she always encouraged us to hang in there and keep the faith. I remember a lot of times spending 3 days on the same lesson. Then when we would all understand it she would be as happy for us as we were. She never minded going back and repeating a lesson if we stumbled on something after moving on.

I’m not sure where Mrs. Jutton is today. But I hope and pray that she is still teaching although I would imagine she is one of those teachers who are not happy about the whole “teaching to the test” philosophy of education today. How wonderful would it be to have teachers like her in every classroom in America? I wonder how that would affect the caliber of graduates who enter the “real” world each May. Keep the faith – I’m sure there are a few Mrs. Jutton’s still out there somewhere in the system. And their students are blessed indeed!

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