23: School Mama

23: School Mama

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers

School Mama

Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness.

~Stevie Wonder

Every day, I hear the word “Mama” more than I hear my own name.

My students are all learning to speak for the first time.

Many say “Mama” before any other language emerges.

And no wonder, as vital as she is —

The first time it happened, I almost corrected the child.

But I’ve since found all that Mama can mean.

A simple word, Mama is a noun, and Mama is a verb.

Mama is their comfort, their mantra.

“Ma mamamama…”

They babble throughout our daily rhythm.

Mama is the calm amidst chaos.

Sometimes “Mama” slips out when they are asking me for help

tying their shoes

or when I am tucking them in for their nap.

Mama isn’t one person but code for so many comforts —

a special blanket

a preferred animal

a naptime movie

or even a teacher, honored to be caring for these tiny friends.

While I may never hear “Mama” from a child of my own

I am blessed to be a school mama —

a giver,

a comfort,

a friend.

~Naomi Townsend

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