Caroline was a fourth-grade teacher and she knew that every kid was special in some way. But one of them she’ll always remember. His name was Phillip. Phillip was a very nice and polite boy. He had a smile on his face that nothing could erase.
He was one of the most talkative kids she ever met, and he never stopped talking in class.
“Philip, you need to know that you are not allowed to speak in class. If you have anything to say, save it for after class,” Caroline advised. She was always impressed by his very polite answers.
“Thank you for correcting me, teacher.” Or “Thank you for your patience, teacher.” – Phillip would answer.
He always knew how to impress with his answers. But he never stopped talking.
One day, Caroline’s patience diminished since she didn’t know how to approach Phillip anymore. Because of that, she made an initial beginners mistake. She looked at Phillip with a rebuke and warned him: “Philip, if you say another word, I will tape your mouth shut.” Not even five minutes passed when Caroline heard Philip’s voice again.
Since she stated the punishment, she had to act on it. Caroline opened the first drawer of her desk, grabbed the masking tape and headed to where Philip was sitting. She tore off a piece of the tape and placed it on Phillip’s mouth. Caroline returned to her desk and when she turned to Phillip, she noticed he was smiling underneath the wrinkled tape. She couldn’t restrain herself and started laughing aloud. The whole class started laughing as she headed towards Phillip to remove the tape of his mouth. His words were,
“Thank you for correcting me, teacher.”
It was already the end of the year, and the headmaster asked Caroline to teach math to ninth graders. The years passed fast, and Philip’s generation came in her classroom. Philip was just as polite, but less talkative and mischievous. One Tuesday, a day before the test, every student in the classroom was nervous and frustrated, including Phillip. Caroline tried to get the best out of the situation and told everyone to sit in their seats. “Get yourself a blank piece of paper in front of you.” “On the same sheet of paper, write the name of each classmate.”
Caroline noticed the students’ interest and left them for a few seconds to wonder. “You have thirty minutes to write down three good things for each classmate. Starting now. ”
At the end of the class each student handed Caroline their piece of paper. That night Caroline wrote the names of each student in the class on separate sheets of paper. For each student she wrote the beautiful things that their classmate said. The next day she distributed the sheets of paper to the students.
Her heart filled with joy when she noticed the smiles in the classroom. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another.
That generation of students moved on in life. Years and years passed when Caroline’s phone rang and for the first time after so many years, she heard Phillip’s mother on the phone.
“Good morning Miss Wright, we haven’t heard from you in a long time …” said Caroline.
“Good afternoon Miss, I am calling you to let you know that Phillip was wounded in Vietnam. He says he wants to talk to you. ”
“Please give me your address and I’ll be there as fast as I can,” Caroline replied.
She got in the car immediately. In less than two hours, she arrived at Phillip’s house. She found it very strange since there were so many cars parked in front of the house.
Caroline rang the doorbell and an unknown woman opened the door for her.
“I’m Emma, Phillip’s wife, come in.”
As they walked towards Emma’s living room, she spoke, “I’m so glad to meet you, I’ve heard so much about you.”
As they entered the room, Caroline saw Phillip resting on the sofa. There were a lot of people in the room and they were all around Phillip’s age. Every one of them holding a piece of paper.
It didn’t take her long to figure out who they were. It was Phillip’s generation.
One of the students started, “Good afternoon my dear teacher, Phillip is recovering as you can see. We called you here not only because of Philip but for all of us. Charlotte, Scott, David, Joanna, Chris, Matthew…
As he named them, they all got up one by one and handed Caroline a piece of paper.
Caroline’s eyes filled with tears.
Philip got up from the bed and took out a crumpled sheet of paper from his wallet. Everyone in the room did the same. Caroline remained speechless and the only thing she could do at that moment was to hug them all at once.
She knew what was written on those pieces of paper.
So, everyone happy and fulfilled, sat down to eat pizza and reflect on their past years.
Caroline knew that a great teacher plants the seeds of greatness in the minds of future generations.
We must never forget our teachers, our lecturers and our mentors. In their individual capacities have contributed to our academic, professional and personal development.