“Most of us end of up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” Andy Rooney
The answer to the question of who gets me out of bed is easy. God kisses me with the breath of life every morning, and He allows me to do what He called me to do. For those of you who know me, you know that I am not a morning person. I don’t jump out of bed with boundless energy, ready to tackle the day. I lay, and think, and wish, and pray, and wonder will I make the right decisions. I wonder if what I am doing makes a difference to my kids. No, I did not birth any kids of my own; I did not contract with the Georgia Department of Human Resources to adopt a child of my own. My kids are the ones who come to my classroom every day. Some are ready to learn, and many more are not ready for anything. They are just there. No matter the reason they are there, they are mine. My kids are also on the swim team, the student council, the debate team, and the 4-H Club.
What gets me out of bed? My kids get me out of bed. They get me out of bed because they need me. They need me to teach them English. They need me to tell them corny jokes in the afternoon. The morning classes know they don’t get jokes because I am not a morning person. They know, and they understand. They need me to teach them how to be polite to their classmates. They need to know that in Fagin’s world, we don’t say “shut up” to our classmates. They need me to teach them that there is a world outside of Griffin. They need me to teach them that in spite of what some in our community say, good things come out of Griffin High School. I came out of Griffin High School, and I have NEVER for one moment regretted the fact that my high school diploma, the first diploma I ever received, came from Griffin High School. They need to know that the gold gown I wore 26 years ago is hanging in my closet. I have fond memories of wearing that gown and singing the words of the Griffin High School Alma Mater as I stood with my friends and classmates on the very same field they will stand on when they graduate. They need to know that when I was sitting in a ski boat off the coast of the Island of Capri, I proudly sang the Alma Mater as I waited to see the Blue Grotto for the very first time. I get out of bed because my baseball playing kids need to look out of the dugout and see me in the stands while they are at a game. They need to know that although I fuss nonstop in the classroom, I care about the things that they are most passionate about. I’m not fussing at them at the baseball game; I’m cheering them on and encouraging them to do their best. It’s sort of the same thing I’m doing in the classroom, but they don’t realize it.
The memory of my deceased mother gets me out of bed. The memory of going to her kindergarten room every day for nearly a year while I was fresh out of college and unemployed gets me out of bed. I remember making hay stacks, green eggs and turkey ham, French Toast, and silver bells out of egg cartons at Christmas. My memories include my mother because she knew, probably before anyone else, that all I wanted was to be a school teacher. Sadly she passed away before my dream was realized, but I continue to get out of bed each morning because somewhere deep inside of my soul, I believe that my mother is with me in my classroom. She is there as I read with my students. I would like to believe that she is happy that I am not asleep while reading. There were a lot of times that she would fall asleep on the carpet while reading to her students. I don’t do that or at least I hope I don’t. My mother is there as I scold my students for doing inappropriate things. After I scold them, I speak with them about their future. She would have done the same thing. After she passed, many of her former students and their parents came to the funeral home for visitation. They spoke at great lengths about how firm my mother was, yet the students always knew she loved them.
The answer to my initial question is easy and already stated. God gets me out of bed. The answer to the second question is a bit more complex. I don’t get out of bed hoping to be the kind of person my mother was. I get out of bed hoping to be the kind of woman she would be proud to call her daughter and a teacher. I get out of bed hoping that one day my students will be able to say that although I was moody and strict when necessary, they knew I loved them and have absolutely always wanted the best for them. That’s why I get out bed.