Treasuring The Special Gifts Given By Our Teachers

By Judith Kristen, AAP Columnist

Happy September! Wow! Where did the summer go, huh?

You’ve already put the sun block away, school clothes and supplies have been purchased, and with any luck, you’ll manage your first cup of disturbance-free coffee since the end of June.
I always loved the first day of school. I’d get to see the far away friends I didn’t see in the summertime. I’d have a nice outfit and new shoes to wear. And, I’d have a school bag with some much-needed supplies in it, as well as a nifty vinyl pencil case with three perfectly sharpened No. 2 pencils inside of it.
Best of all were the teachers I would be able to call my own that year. I wasn’t lucky every year, but those who truly inspired me are with me still. Mrs. Mitchell, Mrs. Horko, Miss Scally, Mrs. Divine, Dr. Wild, Mr. Ludwig, Mr. Bell, Mrs. Widmaier… you get the point.
And now that I have become an educator of sorts myself, because of my books my speaking engagements, and school tours, I have met new teachers that I am also proud to call my friends. Teachers who not only inspire their charges, but who inspire me as well: Shelly Fredman, Cathy Girgis, Francine Eisenmann, Nancy Tryon, Sharon Swanton, Magna Diaz, Kathy Long, Maria Pandolfi… the list goes on and on.

And, with the new school year upon us, before you know it, wonderful teachers like the ones I have just mentioned above will have those live wires of early September, well grounded by the following June, all thanks to their love of learning, their joy for the written word, and their respect, patience, kindness, and compassion for your children. And let’s not forget the benefits of a good sense of humor!
The start of my teaching year first finds me at Carson School in early September, and by mid-month, I’m teaching in England, in two lovely northern cities: Manchester and Liverpool. Even though the accents and customs are different, the eagerness to learn, to know, to understand, and to be swept up into the magic of the written word knows no barrier.

And when I stand in front of all of those children, I do not stand there alone. I take all of those other teachers along with me.

Children will always test the water. They will watch what you do with far more scrutiny than what you say. They will be optimistic and eager to learn one day, and maybe not so much the next. But a good teacher, one who inspires, will lead a child forward, through good days and bad, through the positive and negative, and the darkness and the light. Why? Because that’s what teachers do. They lovingly prepare our children for “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” – Shel Silverstein

Happy new school year! Peace and love… and No. 2 pencils.


Judith Kristen recounts her obsession for the Beatles and her not-so-chance meeting with George Harrison in her best-selling book, “A Date With A Beatle.” For more information on Judith and her published work, visit

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