Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Power of a Teacher

By Cathy Yan, Assistant Editor, Amazing Kids! Adventure and Global Village Column Editor

 

When someone speaks of an ‘everyday hero’, the mind automatically jumps to thoughts of brave firefighters inside burning buildings, surgeons saving lives in the dead of night with a single bead of sweat dripping down their foreheads, and policemen calmly arresting a villainous figure. What people do not consider, however, are schoolteachers.

At the beginning of second grade, I had just immigrated to Canada and could barely speak any English. I was enrolled in my school’s English learning program, but I felt I was making little progress and was growing increasingly more agitated by how nobody could understand me at school. Needless to say, making friends, joining clubs, and doing academic work were all almost impossible tasks.

However, my teacher at the time, Ms. H, was perpetually patient with me. When I had tantrums because I could not find the words to ask for help, she would calmly talk to me in a soothing way and instinctively judge, based on my body language, what I wanted. Furthermore, she appointed a girl to be my translator and buddy, giving me the opportunity to form friendships by breaking down language barriers.

Best of all, she understood my strengths and helped me to work on my weaknesses. She was one of the few people at school who saw I was not just the dumb new girl completely clueless to what was going on around her, but someone who excelled at math and sciences, despite my pitiful attempts at writing. Instead of shoving simple picture books at me, she sought to improve my reading skills by presenting me with material far above my level.

With her incessant encouragement, I grew from a frustrated, English-challenged child to someone who loved to read, write, and participate in social activities. Soon, even without a translator, I was able to communicate with my classmates confidently and be proud of my progress at school.

Overall, my story goes to show that it does not always have to be a cure for cancer or a document bringing about world peace that makes someone a hero. It can be as simple as teaching a seven-year-old girl to test her limits and believe in herself. After all, there is nothing more heroic than making a difference in the lives of others, even if it is just one person.