"I wasn't ready for the real challenges of life in these mountains. I'd have given up, if not for the children. I came to Cutter Gap to teach but they show me everyday I'm here to learn."
~spoken by Christy Huddleson, in CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall
I have yet to read a book that touches the teacher in me as profoundly as CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. Her story is a sweet portrayal of the hardships, sacrifices, and the measureless rewards of teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Christy Huddleson is a young woman who answers a higher calling to become Teacher to a group of gangly, uneducated children of various ages and abilities. Through her many trials and triumphs, we see the impact people can have when they step out in faith, and out of their comfort zones.
Aside from being a wife and mother, my most privileged role has been as a teacher. Because it wasn't my chosen "profession", filling the shoes as Teacher has felt a bit like walking on holy ground. I know that in my own strength, I can accomplish nothing of lasting value without the hand of God in it. The love, the patience, and the passion for learning are not mine to give. I am only an instrument in my Father's hands for him to use in what I believe to be among the most honorable professions.
Christy reminds me of sage words my sister spoke to me when I began my journey as a teacher. Along with her many practical suggestions that equipped me in the classroom, the message that penetrated my heart became my goal ~ "Teach your students to love learning." She promised me success if I made this my main focus. "Make learning fun" became my mantra as I decorated my classroom and welcomed a room full of second graders. Each day I made it a point to weave activities and stories into the lessons that would put smiles on their faces.
I recently read tender words shared by a dear woman I have known for years. She gave a peek into her heart as a mother, after seeing her daughter take off for a new adventure. Kelsie is beginning her teaching ministry in the Philippines with a class of second graders. My own heart's response was one of compassion and utter joy. Is it ever easy to watch your children venture into a life so far away? And for her daughter, oh, the excitement and the thrill of the unknowns as she embarks on this new journey as a young, godly teacher. How blessed are the students who await her!
"To touch the hearts of your students is the greatest miracle you can perform." I quite agree. If teaching isn't a God-assignment, I don't know what is.
And now, here is my favorite passage from CHRISTY that sums up a teacher's heart so beautifully~
"Little Burl was not working on spelling at all, but sitting at his desk staring up at the ceiling, his cowlick standing straight up, his funny little face puckered into a look of intense concentration. Something I had said had made an impression on him; I hoped he would let me in on his secret thought.
I had reached down to get fresh papers out of my desk drawer when I felt arms around my neck hugging me fiercely. It was Little Burl. He put his bare feet on top of my larger ones, locked his two hands behind my neck, stretched his head up to look me full in the eyes. 'Teacher, Teacher, hain't it true, Teacher, that if God loves ever'body, then we'uns got to love ever'body too?'
I looked at the six-year-old in astonishment. 'Yes, Little Burl, it is true.' Forever and forever and forever.
So once I shut down my privilege of disliking anyone I chose and holding myself aloof if I could manage it, greater understanding, growing compassion came to me, more love for the children and as time passed, for the older people too."