10: Best Teacher Ever

10: Best Teacher Ever

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Best Teacher Ever

There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.

~Mahatma Gandhi

Dad was an English teacher who taught high school students by day and college students by night. Mom stayed home and homeschooled their four children until the high school years. I was the oldest; my sister Catherine was second. The other three of us had no trouble learning to read, but Catherine still could not read by fifth grade, and worse still, did not even know the alphabet.

My mother did some research and decided that Catherine had some sort of learning disability. She enrolled Catherine at a public school in order to obtain access to state resources. Catherine made many friends at school and amazed everyone with her gift for telling creative stories in class at a moment’s notice, but she still couldn’t master reading. After all the testing was done, the school had my parents come in. They were told they should just take Catherine home. Based on the test results, the school did not understand how she was as high functioning as she was.

Tears of grief streamed down my dad’s cheeks, but my mom’s jaw was set in quiet determination. As they walked back to the car, she turned to him and said, “I know she’s not stupid.”

Soon thereafter, my mom stumbled upon a learning system that focused heavily on lesson repetition and building slowly on the previous exercises. She worked with Catherine for four hours every morning while the rest of us studied on our own. It was frustrating for both of them, but she often told a weeping Catherine, “Failure is not an option. You’re going to learn to read, or we’ll both die trying! You have to learn to read! You will learn to read.”

In time, Catherine got it. By the time she graduated from eighth grade, she was reading almost at grade level. She continued improving and was reading above grade level when she graduated from a public high school.

Catherine came to love reading and writing and even corresponded online with her future husband while attending junior college. All of this because of a wonderfully devoted mother who was absolutely the best teacher ever — for all four of us.

~Emily Dupree

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