Friday, August 31, 2012

Tribute to Miss Polley

Some 30+ years ago, I was entering 3rd grade.  A bundle of insecurity, cross eyed, shy, withdrawn, clinging and dependent on my one friend, I was a mess! 

Miss Polley was my assigned teacher that year and she was eccentric, fun and and made learning a game.  Although she taught at a Christian school and certainly modeled the ways of a Christian, she never quite fit into the mold of a traditional teacher.  Instead of a recording for music class, she brought her guitar.  Instead of memorizing facts from a book, she made up a song for them.  Whenever she could incorporate fun or a game or a song to reinforce the lesson - she would!  She was single and openly shared with us about her life.  During the year, she began dating a man.  She brought him to our class to introduce him and to 'gain our approval".  He ate lunch with us and she encouraged us to get a napkin and ask him for his autograph!  She told us time and time again how much our class meant to her and for that year - we were her life! Each student knew they were valued and loved by Miss Polley.

Although as a child, I came to her class with many issues, Miss Polley looked beyond my weaknesses and gave me some special attention.  She encouraged me to branch out in my friendships, to try things I never had before.  She took my strong areas and built them up.  But most importantly, she loved me regardless...unconditionally and made sure I knew it.  I wasn't very athletic and PE took a lot out of me.  She allowed me to recuperate in class with an ice cream each day after PE.  She thought my sugar may be low!!!   She made it a point to come to our home, meet my family and went out to dinner with us.  When I had some eye surgery, she came to the hospital to visit me.  In a million different ways, she let me know I was special.  Not always in tangible ways, but a bond formed the heart that conveyed that she thought I was special and I knew she was on my side rooting for me to succeed.

I've never forgotten Miss Polley's special influence.  30+ years later (in January of this year) I wrote her a letter, just to let her know what an impact she had in my life.  She responded and thanked me and we caught up through the years.  She had battled many health problems, but was strong in spirit and faith.

 This weekend, I received an email from her son.  She had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  She still had the letter I mailed and it had blessed her.  The email asked me to call her husband, as soon as possible.  A beautiful conversation took place as we reflected on the gift Miss Polley was to us.  He asked for permission to share my letter at her funeral to give her friends a glimpse of the kind of teacher she was.  Permission was gladly given with instructions to pass along the importance of influence and making others feel special and valued, shown by her example.

I am forever grateful for God divinely placing me in the classroom of a special teacher who could look beyond what is seen, go beyond what was required, find an interesting way to 'make things stick" and make an impact that will last a lifetime. 

This week in our area school begins.  Many teachers are beginning a new school year with new students, new stresses, pressures and deadlines.  My prayer is for them to look beyond the tasks and pressures of the job.  To remember that each child is a gift and is made in the image of God.  To seek beyond what is seen and ask God to help them meet the unseen needs of each child.  To make an impact for the better in those lives. To let their classrooms be a sacred place, where God's love flows from heart to heart.  Where each person is made to feel special and valued.  Teaching is truly a gift, may it be used to bring glory to God and true blessing into the lives of those being taught.  " ... to whom much is given, from him much will be required."

It can happen...this is proof! 

"A teacher affects eternity:
he can never tell where his influence stops."
Henry Adams

1 comment:

  1. What a special person, teacher, and friend she was to you, and I am sure, many others.So glad God prompted you to write that letter. I can only imagine what a blessing that was to her!

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