I was in your class for a while today, Ms. Massey. I would be remiss if I did not comment on what I saw.
It's interesting that you would make such an impact on me. We didn't even speak. In fact, the only communication was your motioning me and those with me into the class, and pointing to the child chairs upon which we were to sit. I was not long in that chair before I began to marvel at the choreography of learning and social adjustment going on before me.
I'm sorry I didn't quite catch on to that first exercise in which you were engaged with the kids. It was the one with the counting in rhythm with the music. Sorry, I do know how to count, but for some reason I couldn't tear my mind away from the drama before me to quite incorporate the activity into my amazement.
That was, as you know, my son sitting beside me, the son who is also a teacher, a high school teacher of advanced placement teens. I used to put him on the top of my list of educators I respect. Today, he may have fallen to that rung that is next to the top. You, Ms. Massey, are at the top. My son prepares one lesson plan that covers all the children in his classes of the same subject. It was apparent you prepare a plan for each individual child. And, more astounding, you're able to facilitate every child individually while engaging them as a whole in an activity.
I was really impressed when that child got a bit frustrated and you simply told her to press her hands together hard when she felt angry. She did and it was over. Wow. I may try that myself next time I'm in a church meeting.
There are not a lot of women, Ms. Massey, who are not above getting down on the floor on their belly to act out the motions of the worm of which the song was singing. There are not a lot of women in the world who can pull forth effort from kids of pre-school age with the ease and poise with which you do. And, most importantly, there are not a lot of people who can meet the challenges of those precious children with hope, determination, and constant reminders of their own dignity and sense of worth.
Why do you do it, Ms. Massey? What possessed you to depart from the world of the well behaved elementary child to enter into the challenge of teaching in the Special Needs Pre-K program? I doubt, in this world, you get any extra pay for it. And I know for sure the normal pay you receive is an insult to your education, your dedication and, especially, the love you have for those children.
I've become at my advance age, in many ways, Ms. Massey, a cynical old man. But today I became an old man pleased with the world and the people who occupy it. Sometimes, Ms. Massey, I'm a bit pleased with myself in that I've been able to do some good things for some people. But I will never hold a candle to you in what you do for those kids. I don't know if you're religious or not, Ms. Massey. I am, and I'm quite sure God is smiling down on you.
I'll put my head down on the pillow tonight and remember this day. All the things I encountered today, and all the things for many days in the past, will fade into insignificance compared to my encounter with you and those children whose lives will be forever made more whole because they gather around you every school day.
Well, that's it, Ms. Massey. Thank you for what you do. And thank you for doing it with such joy and grace. You are my hero. And if I had the power I'd have you declared a saint.