teacher on fire...

maxx's language arts teacher (from last year's freshman english class) won the school's teacher of the year. then she went on to win the teacher of the year for our whole county. and now she is going to state. and for some INSANE reason she asked maxx and i to write recommendation letters for her folder. she gets ONE student and ONE parent recommendation letter in her folder. it was a great honor for us. and it was a bit unnerving since i only met her once. i recounted that meeting in my letter. it was brief but obviously she remembered our meeting and thought i might write something good about her. she is a wonderful teacher and i wanted to do her justice. i hope that i did...

rebecca kirchharr finds out that she is the teacher of the year for our county. my favorite part of the photo is her mom right behind her. look at her mom's smile. her mother is also a teacher. 

rebecca kirchharr finds out that she is the teacher of the year for our county. my favorite part of the photo is her mom right behind her. look at her mom's smile. her mother is also a teacher. 

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. {William Butler Yeats}

I understand what Willie B. is saying in that quote. However I also know a dang lot of pail fillin’ has to go on in a language arts classroom. There is grammar to learn (obviously my pail ain’t quite full), S.A.T words to memorize, and oxford comma usage to debate (I am on the pro side, obviously.) But our educational goal for our three children was/is/will forevermore be that they LOVE learning. Pursue it on their own. Eat, sleep, and breathe wanting to know more about this mind-boggling world. Wake up to read more books. Tune their ears to listen to more people’s stories. Because everyone has a story. Everyone has something they alone can teach you. 

When Rebecca Kirchharr was my son Maxx’s teacher I ran into her in a local restaurant one evening. I introduced myself, grabbed both her hands, looked straight into her eyes, and breathlessly told her she was an AMAZING teacher. I think she saw a passion and a fire in my eyes that a) frightened her and b) let her know that I was a kindred spirit...

Ms. Kirchharr’s class is one of those LIVING BREATHING classrooms that sparks that “burning” learning. Learning from books, from writing, from peers, and from a teacher who first and foremost CARES about students. All last year the pile of books grew taller on Maxx’s nightstand as he began to devour literature. Fiction. Nonfiction. Cereal boxes. He couldn’t stop reading. Or stop discussing those books. With his family. With friends. Sharing books. Passing them on to other students. Suddenly everyone wanted to read the book that someone had expounded on in class. Ms. Kirchharr started a fire in those teenagers. So in a sense she is a flaming pyromaniac. In all the good ways of pyromania...

One of my favorite policies of hers is the “bell to bell” work policy. Which means if a student works from opening class bell to closing class bell there is no homework (and all parents said “Amen”) other than reading. Which had become less a chore and more of a GIMME MORE  kind of thing with my son. He couldn’t wait to analyze and deconstruct chapters. He tried to find books that Ms. Kirchharr hadn’t read and through his pontification convince her to read them so they could discourse together. His confidence, leadership, and speaking skills improved as that stack grew higher on his nightstand. The students came to class READY to go at the ringing of the bell. I imagine it is akin to the opening of the gates at the Kentucky Derby...

A decade ago Maxx entered a regular education kindergarten class as a hearing impaired student. His teacher was reticent about him succeeding in a “regular” classroom. She went over her detailed list of concerns. Then she asked about my concerns. I told her I wanted two things for that year and every year... for Maxx to love learning. And for his teacher to love him. Those two things happened in Rebecca Kirchharr’s classroom last year. For Maxx and for the other students. Her classroom continues to be a fire hazard to this very day. Burn baby burn...

Thank you for considering a flaming pyromaniac as your teacher of the year.