“I don’t teach math. I teach children.”
That’s what Miss Haliday used to say when people tried to paint her into a neat box. She wouldn’t allow anyone to label her a “math person” or tell her she “must be good with numbers” if she could help it. Miss Haliday was a people person and she was definitely good with relationships.
Once, she was sitting in her classroom, nibbling on cheese and crackers during her 20-minute lunch. Several students were in the room using the time to study and complete homework. Miss Haliday had plenty to do – copies to be made, papers to grade, and a test to write – but this moment was the only quiet one she had. Looking out her door, she noticed a boy standing at the lockers in the hall. She wiped the crumbs from her desk, resealed her lunch bin, and slowly rose from her chair.
“Are you going to teach us something?” Jonathon asked.
“We’ll find out in a minute,” was her simple response.
When she reached the door, the boy turned with a startled gasp. His backpack was open and his books and notes tumbled to the floor. He dropped his bag and hurried to collect his things – a pencil case wrapped in duct tape, his binder and composition book, and a science text in clear need of spinal repair.
“Here, let me help.”
Miss Haliday lowered herself to one knee and gathered a few pens and erasers.
“Are you having a hard time with your locker?”
“I can’t make the lock work. I got my combination right from my teacher but it won’t open.”
“What’s your name?”
“Franklin. I’m new here.”
“I guessed as much. After we get all of this picked up, I’ll call for someone to check your lock. You can wait in my room.”
It was a twelve minute delay before the janitor arrived. He had a key and showed Franklin how to open the lock. Miss Haliday stood by as he made a few more tries to be sure. When he was ready to leave, she wrote a pass and offered assistance whenever he needed.
“You’re just outside my door so don’t you worry. I’m always right here.”
Franklin lingered in front of Miss Haliday, schedule in hand, a smile on his face.
“I don’t have you for any classes. What do you teach?”
Miss Haliday peeked back into her room to see the few children inside. They were stacking their materials and preparing to leave. Her heart warmed at the thought that this was precious time for them – a small capsule of rest from all the hectic day’s demands.
“Well, I guess that depends, dear. What would you like to learn?”