by June Friesen
As I was pondering this idea of teacher appreciation many things came to my mind. I thought of the many teachers I had over my lifetime and those who are still teaching me new things in my life. For most of us the first teachers and possibly the most influential were and are parents and extended family. Pictured above is my kindergarten and first grade teacher. I am the little girl with the doll almost as big as I was. This woman made a deep impression on my life not only in her teaching but her love and patience with all of us little ones. There were many other teachers that helped prepare me for my journey through life in school from kindergarten through several years of college. Sadly I have to admit that many probably did not receive the appreciation at the time that was benefitting from their teaching because education was more of a requirement than something one necessarily always appreciated.
Jesus was the greatest teacher that ever lived on this earth. He came to teach humanity about how to live together in peace and unity, and also taught that all people were important to Him including the children, adults, the sick and the sorrowful. He was known to intervene when people tried to keep certain people, even children, away from Him.
Matthew 19: 13-15 One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.
I have always loved the picture that this brings into my mind. Take a moment and maybe even close your eyes and picture Jesus sitting on the hillside and the children gathering around Him, pushing in and trying to get closer than their sibling or their friend. Consider if you would how it might have felt to the child as He touched them, as He blessed them. For many years I had infants through five year olds in my home and having them surrounded by a peaceful environment was so key for them. In another Scripture Paul in his writing pays respect to Timothy’s mother and grandmother by their names for the way they had taught Timothy as he grew up.
2 Timothy 1:3-7 3-4 Every time I say your name in prayer—which is practically all the time—I thank God for you, the God I worship with my whole life in the tradition of my ancestors. I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion. 5-7 That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
Many, if not all of us, have had many teachers throughout our lives. It usually begins within our family units and parents, moving on to school and then society and university. However, there are so many people who are in our life pathway who teach us things as friends, medical personnel, or workers at a store who help us. As I was considering this I remembered some specific teachers that had a great influence upon my life. Usually it was because of how they treated me, how they encouraged me in my learning experience, and because they actually took time to help me understand something I struggled with understanding.
While my teachers all through elementary school, high school, and college were instrumental in me gaining wisdom to navigate in life as well as a career, what I learned at home has helped me in so many ways. Some of the skills I learned were gardening, cooking, and preserving vegetables and fruits. Recently I had many tomatoes, cucumbers, mangos etc. in my kitchen stash. Below are some photos of things that I love to make. One is cranberry salsa, a recipe I discovered in a newspaper here in Phoenix years ago. It is a family favorite but also a favorite requested when invited to Christmas parties. I learned these skills first at home but also in school as when I was in 7th grade through 10th grade I was able to take a course called Home Economics. I learned so many things there as well.
Over the years I have also been active in teaching others skills that they may not have learned in their growing up. Sometimes it has been when someone has actually been living with us. Years ago I had some young teens from Jamaica in our youth group. They begged for a cooking class so once a week in the even we gathered in the church basement for hands on cooking class.
So today – who are the teachers in your life that you are grateful for? What are the things you are able to do because of teachers in your life – either in the home, school or workplace?
And as I close today I also want to challenge us in our spiritual walk. It is important to be open to those who are able to help us in a relationship with God. We can do that by having one on one relationships where a book of the Bible is studied. Or it can be a group study. And even if you are not close to everyone – guess what – zoom is a great opportunity to bless people over many miles. I have a great zoom group that I was invited to join at the beginning of Covid. I have only met one person and that was only two months ago but it has been a great nurturing and teaching experience for me.
And one last fun thing for me – I have learned how to embrace other cultures and even wear their clothing. I am involved with many refugees from Africa, and they have gifted me clothes which I wear proudly. They have taught me so much in so many areas of life.
So who are some special people who have taught you things over your life time? Do they know how much you appreciate their influence in/on your life? Maybe today is the day to tell them ‘thank you.’