Once upon a time, there was a teacher. She taught a third grade class at Beacon Hill Elementary School. This school was not like other schools. First of all, it had no walls. No walls at all! The children were all in one or two big rooms, and their teachers set up little bookcases and other things to separate the classes. But when a child in one classroom giggled, the kids in the other classroom could hear it. But the third grade teacher had none of it.
She was a young teacher. Some said she was mean. But others said she was the best teacher they’d ever had. She had come from Chicago to Seattle, but she was originally from Florida! So many of the kids had never been to Florida. Plus, she spoke Spanish! About half the class spoke Spanish, and they liked her right away. There were lots of other languages spoken as well though. Some kids spoke Cantonese, others Vietnamese, and others still Korean and Japanese. Some spoke Spanish, and most of the class spoke English — but not all. The teacher didn’t quite know what to do, but she set out to learn as much as she could about each of the students in her class. She taught the kids who needed it their English, and in return, she learned a little bit of each of the languages in her class. She picked up some Cantonese, and some Vietnamese, and she hoped to be able to learn more as time went on.
Little did the students know just how much their teacher wanted to be with them. They didn’t know the risk she took to come to Seattle, they didn’t know how much she missed her family in Florida. None of her students realized just how close she had come to being disheartened, but how much she tried to put herself into the classroom. They couldn’t see her the night before the big day as she lay in bed and wondered what it would be like. How would she teach these twenty-five children? How would she make them learn and help them grow up? She remembered her own third grade many years before all the way on the other side of the country. She remembered how much her parents had to fight for her to get what she deserved, since as an immigrant family it would have been easy for them to fall through the cracks. She was determined not to allow that to happen to her children, but instead to show them that they could make it. She was filled with hope at the start of her career.
But none of her students knew that. All they knew is that each morning they could look forward to what was usually a kind face. Sometimes it was tired and sometimes she would punish them and then they’d say she was mean, but in fact they knew they could trust her and she would guide them through their third grade year.
At night, when the teacher went home, she had a smile on her face. She knew that this would be a great year. She had successfully navigated the convoluted application process of the Seattle schools, and she was well on her way to being a truly great professional.