Sometimes they call me Teacher.
My wife has been teaching for almost four decades. This year, for a variety of reasons, she decided to retire. She began as an art teacher/artist in West Virginia and then came to California. Together, we raised our family as educators in California’s public school systems. In recent years, and I suppose the last years of her career, she served as a transitional kindergarten teacher. This means she worked with four year olds soon to turn five. She loved this work in many ways and her children loved her and her children’s families loved her. Her greatest asset is her willingness and openness to loving people and she has many assets beyond this one key.
Today is mother’s day 2020 and it’s a strange one. Tomorrow and the next few weeks she will have to connect with her class online and through the lessons she provides. Many aspects of these times have been deeply challenging. I know she misses just being with them. Many aspects of regular days teaching have become more and more challenging and that is the topic of another post perhaps. This post is about those times, most times, her children call her teacher. Not Mrs. Puglisi. She never corrects them. She loves that name. Teacher. She became that name the minute she took the job. She became that life. Mrs. Puglisi, formerly Miss McIntosh, is all in. All in for kids and families. She loved that name and what it means to her. Her greatest rewards are the bonds she so easily creates between student and teacher, student and family, and students to other students.
As an artist, her draughtswoman skills of drawing and measuring come easily. Whether they were honed over time or gifted I’m not sure because as long as I’ve known her she has had them. Our kids have them too. She draws easily and loves easily or so it seems I suppose. Loving people makes you vulnerable to things. It’s also the only way to live and exactly what kids need.
Retirement is a phase change. This year my teacher-wife has also become a grandmother for the first time. How she loves her daughter’s little daughter is immeasurable.
Sometimes children just call their teachers “teacher”. These coronatimes we live in hopefully shine a light on the work and vocation that teaching is and will always be. So many parents and media are paying lip service to the role my wife has given her last four decades to, while serving as mother and wife. I can only hope that in the times that follow these pandemic times, when we find some post pandemic way to live, when someone is called teacher in America, it will be with the same love and respect that most children and parents have for Mrs. Puglisi. For Sarah.
I am sure my teacher wife-mother-grandmother will find new roles in the years ahead and new things to go all in on…. Whatever they are… I am sure she will stay connected to the generations of students who once called her teacher and who still hold her in their hearts and minds.. These days on facebook or phone or instagram or whatever platform. I followed her into this profession some thirty plus years ago…. Sometimes it’s good to follow… sometimes they call me teacher… or in my new role.. They say, “I know you!” and I say, “I know you.”