Normally I write about what is happening at the Phrog and Munkey Folk Ranch, design, paint, etc. but today I want to tell you about a person that changed my perspective on reading, language and learning.
I am a teacher in a large school district, at a campus that houses 9th and 10th graders. On our campus the students have an open lunch where they can go to clubs, tutoring, the library, the gym, or just hang with their friends. My classroom is a spot where some students like to come sit with their friends in a quiet spot and chill. I am extremely lucky to have a group of students that feel comfortable in my room and choose to share their time with me. I am also extremely lucky to get to have open and honest conversations with these young people and at times they say things that make me proud to be an educator. Today I heard a student say something very similar to what I said when I was a sophomore at Central High School in San Angelo, Texas. She was reading a book and a friend asked her why she was reading because she thought she didn't like to read. The student responded "I didn't until my teacher gave me the first book in this trilogy."
I remember that conversation, the person I was talking to, and the exact spot I was sitting in the courtyard at Central. I don't know which teacher this student was talking about but that teacher for me was Jan Votto. I entered her classroom a reluctant, resistant and indifferent student who didn't like English and didn't like to read. It was a waste of my time. I left her classroom an avid reader and a life-long seeker of "that perfect book." Mrs. Votto took the time to talk to me, ask me about me, learn what I was interested in and present me with options that might interest me. It worked. She handed me Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Song, Dragon Drums and Dragon Singer and I was hooked.
Most teachers are people who are genuinely interested in the young people that enter their lives, affect their lives and leave an impression upon their hearts that never leaves. So thank you Mrs. Votto, thank you to the teacher that helped the young girl in my room appreciate a good read, thank you to every teacher who has ever reached out a hand, put it on a student's shoulder and said, "Let me help you." I am proud to be among you.