I got to have dinner tonight with Terry.
Terry was my sophomore English teacher in high school and, later, when my internship was imploding due to stupidness and politics, she offered to take me in. I flourished under her mentorship, and we’ve developed a strong friendship as a result.
I really admire this woman. She is thoughtful and creative, she genuinely cares about her students, she’s in love with the discipline, and she’s one of the most ethical professionals I’ve ever met. Despite the fact that we were supposed to have a mentor/apprentice relationship, she demanded that I approach her and the work we did together as an equal exchange; she made it patently clear when she accepted me as her intern that we were no longer teacher and student. It’s taken me a long time to think of her as a colleague, but I think I’m finally there.
One of the things I love about spending time with Terry is that, no matter how uneasy or uncertain I feel about the job I’m doing – no matter how frustrated I am that the kids aren’t doing the work, or that I’m going to lose each and every one of them to their own stubborn ignorance – I leave our time together feeling like I really AM good at this job. Terry’s been teaching for a long time (I don’t know how long, exactly, but she was my sophomore teacher, so that’s saying something), and it’s heartening for me to hear her talk about the same fears and frustrations that I feel. We collaborate beautifully, we always come away from each other with new ideas and different tactics to try, and we encourage and energize each other.
I don’t know how to adequately express how wonderful it feels to be respected – truly respected – by someone I admire as much as I do Terry. She is who I wanted to be when I grew up – she is one of my big inspirations for choosing the path that I chose – and I think that much of the satisfaction I feel when I spend time with her is rooted in the fact that we really are very much alike.