Thursday Good News
We’ve all had a special teacher – one who went above and beyond, one without whom we would have struggled or languished, one who took the time to help. But how many of us have gone back to say “thank you?” One student, after forty years, now has. When Ana Reyes arrived in Louisville, KY she didn’t speak English and began falling behind in her classes.
“I remember feeling lost,” said Reyes, 46, who was born in Uruguay and shortly after moved to Spain. She and her family packed up their lives and flew to Louisville in 1979 for her father’s job as a civil engineer.
She was adrift until she got an unexpected offer: Reyes’s first-grade teacher would arrive at school an hour early every morning for a one-on-one lesson to teach her English.
“That was life-changing,” said Reyes. “To this day, I don’t know how far behind I would have been if no one had done that.”
Reyes is now a lawyer (Harvard Law) and works in DC, much of it pro bono. She wanted to connect with this teacher but couldn’t remember her name. It was the Internet to the rescue and amazingly quickly, Reyes had a name and more amazingly, her teacher remembered her and the tutorials.
“I think it made a big difference in my life in that one of the first interactions I had was with someone who was volunteering and giving their time and absorbing that that is how one should behave,” Reyes said. “It has made a big impact on how I try to help others and how I try to think about the world. It wasn’t just about teaching me English, it was teaching that we should all help each other and do what we can for each other. That was an important lesson, too.”
Teachers are priceless. My high school Russian teacher was outstanding, challenging and enthusiastic; she inspired me to love the language and do my best work. When I graduated, she gave me a kopek. This was 1972, currency from the USSR was not easily taken out of the country, so it was an astonishing and validating recognition from her. My mom had it put into a simple necklace for me, which I still treasure.
I never got to tell her what she meant to me, so I’m delighted Ana Reyes was able to, for both of them. How many teachers feel they’re working uphill, alone and in the dark? How many students never meet that life-changing teacher? Thank you for the good news, Jayne, and the reminder.
@Darlynne: I remember a wonderful teach from about the same time who made school fun. And wow, you could take Russian? We had a choice of French or Spanish and sadly, that was it.
I’m still in touch with my first grade teacher and got to visit with her a few years ago, after not seeing each other for decades. She’s lovely, and it was wonderful to meet again.
@Jayne: Ours was the only high school in the city to offer a four-year program. Along with many traditional Russian songs, she taught us her version of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” and I remember them all to this day. She was amazing.
What a lovely story, Jayne! My husband has been teaching math and science to home schoolers for over 15 years. He values those thank yous that current and past students have given him.