22: The Teacher with a Mother’s Touch

22: The Teacher with a Mother’s Touch

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers

The Teacher with a Mother’s Touch

I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.

~Ann Hood

As a sixth grader, I never could have imagined losing the one person I knew loved me more than I loved myself. My father contracted a disease called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which caused his immune system to shut down. He got really sick. The illness caused him to lose a lot of weight, and his body slowly deteriorated. When he died, all I could think about was that I had lost my best friend.

I knew that I had to continue to work hard in school. I wanted my father to be proud of me more than anything else in the world, but I went to school every day feeling depressed. I even attempted suicide. I had completely given up and I was an emotional train wreck. No one knew the pain and the frustration I felt. No one knew that I cried myself to sleep every night after my father died.

After I was released from the hospital, I was told that I had to see a psychiatrist, but talking about how I was feeling inside wasn’t working. I still had an empty void that no one could fill. I was lost, and my frustration quickly turned into anger. I couldn’t understand how an eleven-year-old deserved to be hurt in this way.

When I returned to school, I was greeted by my classmates, who expressed great concern about how I was doing. I assured them that I was okay, even though it took everything in me not to break down. I would sit at my desk and see the kids’ mouths moving, but I wasn’t hearing anything they were saying. I had completely become numb to my reality.

While sitting at my desk one day, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful smile Ms. Brown had on her face. She was always happy, and the love she possessed for her students was genuine. She would often tell the class stories about her three daughters, which expressed how she enjoyed being a mom.

She would stand outside the door and greet each student with a warm hug. For me, it wasn’t just a hug. It made me feel safe again, like someone loved me.

I went to school every day looking forward to a hug from Ms. Brown. I would sometimes close my eyes and imagine that they were my mother’s arms around me. My mother had died when I was a baby, so I never had an opportunity to hug her or tell her that I love her.

Ms. Brown constantly motivated and encouraged me. She not only believed in me, but she believed in every student in her class. I felt like there wasn’t anything I could not conquer. I started smiling again, and for the first time I started to believe in myself.

Teaching was not just a job to Ms. Brown. She enjoyed interacting and challenging her students to reach for the stars. She instilled in us that failure was not an option, and that if we worked hard we would gain success.

I know that one day I want to offer kids the same thing that Ms. Brown offered me. Not only do I want to educate them, but I want to motivate and inspire in a positive way. I want to be a role model for the hundreds of kids who are motherless and fatherless.

Thanks to Ms. Brown, I went from being a scared and depressed eleven-year-old girl to being an OVERCOMER! No matter what challenges and obstacles come my way, I know that if I stay positive and persevere, I will win in the end.

~Sharika R. Reeves

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