Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 25, 2010

Thanking Teachers and Students

I saw Precious this weekend. At the center of the movie a teacher inspires sixteen-year-old Precious, who’s been abused almost since birth, to talk for the first time in class, then asks, “How does that make you feel?”

“I feel here,” she murmurs, and it’s like a mountain had been moved.

This was not the only time I cried during the movie, but I’m glad my daughter urged me to go. (Thanks, Em.) The teacher is the person who brings hope to this story, and here’s a shout out to wonderful teachers I saw this weekend. I had supper with a former student who’s in the middle of a year of practice teaching. That means teaching two grade 12 classes, and one ninth, not only for no pay, but she’s paying for graduate school. She told me, Sometimes I feel as if I’m putting more into the classes than they do. I nodded, and later asked, What’s good? She told me about a teen who often came to talk to her during free periods.

Another friend teaches kindergarten, which she likes, but it’s hard to come home tired. We went to the Carle museum to look at pictures from Golden Books.

One picture was of a girl stuffed into a snow jacket, eyes on the ceiling, waiting to get zippered up. My friend said, “I love that every time, when they lift their chins like that.”

llustration by Garth Williams from THE GIANT GOLDEN BOOK OF ELVES AND FAIRIES.
Copyright © 1951, ren. 1979 by Random House, Inc.

And where would we be without great students? Just before my second class teaching children’s literature, which is a lecturey one as I fill in some history, I realized I’d forgot to bring water. I stopped at a machine and put in some coins, hearing cuh-clink after every quarter, wanting to feel that was hopeful. It was not. I punched a bunch of buttons before a young woman came over and calmly said, “Sometimes only the Ucard works in these machines.” She slid in hers, saying, “My mom just put money on mine,” and handed me a bottle of water.

She could have walked by or stood behind and laughed while I hit buttons like a madwoman. Instead she reminded me to be thankful for girls who stop in to talk, maybe when you’re busy, or children who raise their chins with trust, or passersby who give you water.



  1. I am here
    Oh Jeannine, I loved that someone reached out to you in kindness! Sometimes its the little things…those tiny moments of Light and Grace.
    That scene from PRECIOUS grabbed my heart more than all the rest, which is saying quite a lot. In fact, I blogged about it, too…
    All on its own, it’s well worth the price of admission.

  2. Re: I am here
    Melodye, I’d read your blog and your recommendation and my daughter’s made me know I had to see it. And it helped having the two of you there in spirit, though it was the sort of movie where you could have grabbed a stranger’s hand and I think they’d understand.
    I’m glad you put the link to your beautiful review.
    And yes, re the small moments of grace. I wanted water, felt stymied, then got so much more.

  3. Add my cheers to the wonderful teachers out there! 🙂 And I’ll add Precious to my list of movies to see! Thanks!

  4. I went to Precious a few weeks ago and it took a couple of weeks before I stopped thinking about it All.The.Time. So powerful, so many places a tiny bit of kindness could have helped…

  5. Debbi, thanks for the teacher cheers. And you will be knocked out by Precious. Just bring kleenex, but, as my daughter said to me, “I think you can handle it.”

  6. Oh, yes, those tiny bits of kindness. When Precious sees herself in a younger girl and takes off the red scarf she wore in her fantasies and drapes in around that child’s neck: you felt how small and how momentous.

  7. I’m dying to see “Precious!” Mostly because of Melodye’s recommendation. What a nice gesture of kindness at the beverage machine. 🙂

  8. I think Melodye gave a great overview. It’s good if you bring kleenex, better if you have a hand you can grab, but all in all a tribute to courage.

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