The Teacher

For all you teachers. Thank you for what you give us. It is priceless.

The neighborhood kids got together and built a snowman. When he was good and done, they gave him a hat and a pipe, two button eyes and a nose and a smile. Just as they finished him up, Miss Morgan called the kids into her house for hot chocolate and  treats. Miss Morgan always made the bestest of treats and her hot chocolate was heavenly. Marshmallows and pieces of chocolate melting in the hot milk.

Miss Morgan never had kids of her own. She had been a fifth grade teacher. One of the best at her school. She did fifty years there and then retired. When she retired, kids and parents and grandparents came to the ceremony. And the whole school turned out. There were so many that they moved the event to the town’s theater. It was packed.

Many of the attendees had tears in their eyes. She was so beloved. It was a two-hour ceremony.

First there was the choral society, singing several of her favorite songs. Then a fifth grader came up, gave her a hug and said a few words of praise. Then an eighth grader. Then a senior. Then a young woman in her twenties. Then a man in his thirties. Then a woman in her forties. Then one of her first students stepped up to the podium.

“I became a teacher,” Maggie Heller said. “And now I am finishing my thirty-fifth year. I’ve loved every minute of it. You may not remember me but I stole some money from your purse. Instead of punishing me, you told me that you brought the money just for me.” Maggie started to cry. The principal of the school went over to her and comforted her, then she continued. “That forgiveness has carried me through so many hard things. When I saw the look in your eyes, it wasn’t of disappointment. It was with love. If you could love me even though I did what I did, I could love myself. And your final hug that year. I will never ever forget that. Thank you, Miss Morgan. For teaching me how to be a good human being.”

Finally the superintendent of schools walked to the podium. “Miss Morgan….you know I don’t even know your first name. HR has kept it a state secret all these years.” Tears filled his eyes. He had been a Miss Morgan student too. Then he swiped them away and continued. “Your name is famous throughout the state. For your excellence in teaching and for the quality you have brought to our children. In your name, we have created a scholarship fund and now we have a special surprise. Miss Morgan, please step up here.”

The Teacher rose from her seat and walked to the podium. Standing beside the superintendent, she turned to the man who was once her student. He said, “As our gift to you, we have an all-expense around-the-world cruise. Thank you for all you have given us and will continue to give us.” He hugged her, then handed her a dozen roses and the envelope with the details for the trip.

Miss Morgan looked out at the filled auditorium. Tears were in her eyes too, but she held them back and gave her friends a smile. All she could get out was, “Thank you, And I love you all. Each and everyone of you.”

She spent a year seeing the world. Then she returned to her house on Green Street. Each afternoon one child or another dropped by for tutoring or a story or some advice. On the weekends, the neighborhood kids came to her house for treats. Her door was never closed to a child.

The neighborhood kids gathered in her dining room and consumed their treats. Miss Morgan looked at them all gathered around the dining room table, laughing and swapping jokes and jabbering away as children do. She poured a cup of hot chocolate, then she sneaked outside and went over to the snowman. His smile had fallen into a frown.

“Well, Irving,” she said as she sat the chocolate and cookies in front of him. “Your name is Irving, isn’t it? Of course, it is.”

The snowman stood there all silent.

Miss Morgan brushed some dirt from his shoulder. “You know, you’re a handsome fellow. If I was a snowgirl, I would date you. I bet you’re a good dancer. I love to dance.”

She stood there for fifteen or so minutes. Then she kissed him on the cheek and returned to the children.

As he melted later in the month, Irving remembered Miss Morgan’s final words. “Oh,” she whispered, her whisper so quiet no one else in the whole wide world could hear her. “Just between you and me. My name is Roberta.”

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