As a school teacher, you will simply have to accept that, no matter what you do or say, some students are going to love you, and some students are going to totally hate you. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is how you feel about them.
She came into my classroom that first day in August, and I knew from the very first glance that she was one of a kind. She was very angular of feature, standing, walking, and sitting in a very stiff and upright posture. She did not bend easily, in body or soul.
She insisted on having a front seat so she could learn, and I had to move one of the other girls who really didn’t care where she sat so that Miss Terry could have a front seat. She was a note-taker who constantly noted practically everything. I think she even noted down some of my jokes in the precise order that they were told. Disorder had no place in her world, and she did not tolerate disorder even from a teacher.
And Miss Terry Consuelo Guerra (not exactly her real name) never smiled and never laughed. So you can guess what my primary objective was whenever I had her intense little face in front of me. She hated it whenever I made her smirk or lose control of a slight giggle. And the few times I ever got a real, unguarded smile out of her, she was absolutely beautiful.
The little raven girl would often snipe at me when she answered in class. She often told me that my discipline was too lax, that the lessons weren’t ordered in a way that was efficient, and that I really wasn’t as funny as I thought. And I didn’t let that get to me. I know from faculty lounge conversations that she often got on the nerves of almost all of her other teachers. But I unconditionally loved her. And I know I got to her more than merely once or twice. If we were keeping score, I was winning. But we were not keeping score, and I let her think she was completely in control of her own education.
Her senior year in high school, she and another girl whom I loved and was also graduating came back to visit my seventh-grade classroom.
“You know, Mr. Beyer, looking back on junior high, of all the teachers I had, your class is really the only one I remember. I liked your class.”
Naomi, the girl who came with her, was also a little shocked by Terry’s pronouncement. But she quickly added, “You were the best teacher we ever had.”
“Well, I don’t know… Yes, I guess you are right,” the raven girl said.
“Thank you, that means a lot coming from you,” I said. “By the way, who are you again?”
Her eyes got wider. “You don’t remember me?”
I laughed. “I tried hard to forget you. But it didn’t work. You are Homero’s little sister. You were one of the best students I ever had, Terry.”
The smile I got from that lame joke was the best one.