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God moves in Yakima

This week Bernie Madoff’s mistress told all. Solomon Jackson, Jr., won a $260 million Powerball jackpot. Singer Chris Brown earned 5 years probation for beating Rhianna and my 23-year-old daughter walked into her first classroom as a first-year teacher.

I contemplated all this as I hung colorful posters on blank walls, collated math facts worksheets into binders, and strategized with Megan whether she would have her students use hand sanitizer or warm water and soap to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus. I mentioned the White House panel and its “plausible scenario” for the U.S., predicting wide-scale infections and deaths.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” she responded with a smile.

Across the room I looked intently at her as she worked throughout the day. Young and energetic, compassionate and smart, organized and determined, I thought of all the people in Oak Harbor who contributed to the making of this new teacher: Ms. Heck and Mrs. Zacharias, who sang her songs and encouraged her to write well; Mrs. Strycharski who prepared her for middle school; Mrs. Karahalios who required an exhaustive and beneficial health notebook; and Mrs. Veach, who introduced the beauty of the Spanish language at Oak Harbor High School.

There were so many more, of course. But the passion these teachers held for their students and the subjects they taught are living on in Adams Elementary School’s newest fifth grade teacher.

As I read through the class list I wondered how it would be for Ms. Klope to offer instruction using Spanish and English on a daily basis. It’s a wonder to this mother who recalls how painfully difficult I found conjugating verbs while studying Spanish in high school and college. Thank goodness the fifth graders in room 1 will benefit from a teacher who earned a bilingual teaching endorsement and can educate in both languages with relative ease.

It’s one of the great joys of parenthood: to see a child discover a passion and harness the skills necessary to make all the hard work and planning become a reality. It’s also a true wonder to witness a prayer come true. I wondered how God would move in this challenging economic era when teachers have been laid off statewide and scores of qualified candidates vie for each open position.

Two weeks ago God moved. The good news of a contract and a call for help to set up a new classroom filled my own heart with utter joy. It was just yesterday that Oak Harbor teachers were preparing for Megan’s first day. Now it is her turn to serve the children of Yakima.

Early next week I will wish, for a few moments, I were a fly on the wall as 25 fifth graders from surrounding neighborhoods carefully check class lists posted on the main office doors before hurrying to room 1. I will wonder what it might be like to walk into a classroom and be greeted by a petite, blonde-haired, blue-eyed young woman, greeting students and parents with a cheerful, “Hello! How are you?” a well as an enthusiastic, “Hola! Buenos dias!”

I’ll happily drive over the pass on occasion, weather permitting, to help process book orders or give timed reading tests when asked. I’ll locate a warm winter jacket for someone who has outgrown their own, and I’ll bring along a fresh new writing journal or two, as well. I’ll help corral kids during a classroom outing and stash additional hand sanitizer in the cupboard because I can’t think of a better use of time or money.

I’ll do it all because another generation of young teachers is preparing for the next school year. Look around! The days are getting shorter and bins of pink erasers fill grocery store aisles. School supply lists greet shoppers and parents are beginning to ease into school-time schedules at home. It’s time to slow down, volunteer, make donations, and pray.

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