On March 8, 2014 my world was turned completely upside down. My mother died suddenly. In an instant, I lost my best friend and role model. Throughout my life my mommy (which is what I call her) taught me so many valuable lessons. One lesson in particular resonates so much with me that I wanted to share it with others.
|My mom's school picture - P.S. 106 Queens|
My mom was a New York City public school teacher. The children she taught did not have everything that they wanted and definitely did not have everything that they needed but my mom loved these students as if they were her own children. When entering her classroom, I always felt like I was in a magical place where dreams would come true. Student work was displayed from wall to wall and even hung from the ceiling. The children were actively engaged in their learning and were proud of their accomplishments. I knew from a very young age that when I grew up I wanted to be just like my mommy. I wanted to become a teacher.
|Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.|
After my parents retired from the NYC public schools, they moved to Florida. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with my mom. She became the substitute teacher at my school and the children adored her. In fact, one year the fifth grade students voted her as a superlative for best teacher. Teaching was not only a profession, it defined my mother.
My mom and I talked on the way to and from work. One particular conversation my mom shared with me was more of a request. My mom asked for the word “teacher” to be included on her tombstone. To be honest, I was very uncomfortable with this conversation. I didn’t want to think about anything related to my mom’s death so we never really discussed it again. After my mom passed, I reflected on that simple request and realized that it was bigger than me. My mom taught me that teaching is not a profession, it defines you and in essence, it is who you are. Educators have the ability to impact the future by helping children grow and learn. Of course, my family honored her wishes and her stone reads loving wife, mommy, Gima (which is what her five precious grandchildren call her), daughter, and teacher.