I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you. —
Psalm 32.8 NRSV
As students returned to school around the nation this week, a sense of order has returned in our lives. Yellow school buses dot the roadways, as parents wait with children along the routes. Many children sport new brightly colored backpacks full of supplies to assist learning in the classrooms.
I remember those days before the start of school, boarding a bus with my mother and brother to Hartford to visit G. Fox & Co., to purchase new school clothes. We also stopped at W T Grant’s for book covers and protractors.
There was a joyful sense of reunion with friends, teachers, and classmates as we came together again.
Three of my favorite teachers were also members of my church so my behavior in those classes was exemplary. I knew they socialized with my parents and even in a mid-sized city, nothing about us remained a secret.
Mr. Jackson, an African-American who was raised in Mississippi and witnessed the ravages of segregation and lynchings, was my baseball coach and social studies teacher. I recall his tears when he announced to us the death of President John F. Kennedy.
Mr. Whitcomb was a legend. Students who did not like school loved his classes! He seemed to have a knack for engaging every student with a joy for learning. He taught US History with a special flair, bringing the nation to the classroom. He led us through the history of French and American involvement in southeast Asia just before the Tet offensive. He also taught my Sunday School class.
Mr. Groth gave me a love for literature and writing. He was the youngest of all my teachers and was a recent college graduate. He pointed out biblical themes found in literature and helped us see stories as a way to wrestle with ultimate questions of life from Shakespeare to Hawthorne to Faulkner.
It gives me comfort to know that they worshipped with me and kept an eye on me throughout the years, offering encouragement and advice in my early and mid-adult years.
And yes, there was a time when Mr. Groth asked me to leave his class and invitedme to visit the principal’s office. I spent that hour in the gym instead. Please don’t tell my folks!
Help us to honor and give thanks to our teachers—
For their love of learning and concern for every child.
Keep children safe in their care.
Open our eyes to the world around us
That we may delight in your gift of creation
and give every person the value
You have given to us.