Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Lesson From Ms Frehner

“Everyone has her own specific vocation or mission in life.
Therein she cannot be replaced, nor can her life be repeated.
Thus everyone’s task is as unique as is her specific opportunity to implement it.”
Victor Frankl

I connect with an eclectic array of individuals all of whom seem to know and pursue their specific vocations or missions. I am in awe each time I witness the unfolding of a piece of someone’s mission or the transformation of an individual as their mission or vocation alters, shifts, and at times completely changes. As awe inspiring as it is to see this within others it is even more so seeing my children immersed in their own specific ‘mission’ in life.
While at girls camp a few weeks ago, a young girl came up to me and asked, “Are you Ms Frehner’s mom?”
“Yes, I am.”
“She was my 5th grade teacher; Ms Frehner is my favorite teacher; she’s the best teacher ever! Would you let her know I’m doing really well in middle school? I know she’d want to know that.”
Two days ago my daughter Heather and I flew to Phoenix for one of my sons graduations. As we chit-chatted during the one hour and ten minute flight from Las Vegas, I don’t know why, but I couldn’t help recall what her former student had said to me. Maybe it was the part of our conversation during the flight, when Heather told me that fingernail polish remover was really good at removing markers off doors. “I know this because when I was a kid and played school I wrote on the doors with markers which usually came off with water except one time, and for some reason I decided to try polish remover.” It must have worked well, because I never knew she was writing her DLR, Daily Language Reviews, on the bedroom doors.  
While I don’t remember Heather using the doors as white boards, I do remember when she first wanted to become a teacher. It was the influence of her 2nd grade teacher, Ms Nelson, which sparked her future vocation. She feels for Ms Nelson the way this young girl feels for her. In fact, Ms Nelson and Ms Frehner have remained in contact throughout the years and are currently not only associates but friends.
My daughter’s high school counselor called me in one day. He went over some of her scores and told me, beyond what I already knew, how intelligent Heather was. He knew of her desire to pursue elementary education but felt her father and I should encourage her to explore other options. “She should be looking into engineering. The field is in need of brilliant women and she is more than capable of excelling in such.”
So we discussed career options with Heather. She, having spoken with us and her counselor, began to explore engineering as well as other areas of interest. For once, since 2nd grade, she thought maybe something other than elementary education was in her future.
Attending Community College High School with an emphasis on elementary education, when career day came around she was required to shadow a teacher opposed to an engineer or anyone else. I kind of thought this would be the deciding factor, that maybe she’d see how over whelming managing a classroom was, how long the day could be with all the demands placed upon a teacher. And so it was the deciding factor.
When she came home from school that particular day, I said, as I did every day, “Hi how was your day?”
Instead of the usual response, “Fine,” Heather looked at me and burst into tears.
“Oh my goodness, what’s wrong?” I asked.
Through her tears she said, “I’m going to be poor for the rest of my life. Oh mama, I have to be a teacher.”
As my daughter and I spent time together on the flight to Phoenix, the sweetness and pure admiration of her former student kept coming to my mind. I thought of notes Heather shared with me from parents and students. I know her commitment to her students. There was a time she took over a classroom mid-year. The staff informed her of the needs of her students but when they began to tell her about the class ‘clown’ and the class ‘troublemaker’ Heather stopped them. She didn’t want any of her students labeled, prejudged, she would get to know them for herself; she would build her own teacher/student relationships. I also recalled her frustration with a bureaucracy who, among other things, puts an emphasis on overall test scores rather than individual student development.
 “A teacher affects eternity; she can never tell where her influence stops.”
Henry Brooks Adams

My daughter continually amazes me in so many ways. She works hard and remains dedicated to her ‘vocation’ all the while, whether consciously or intuitively, being aware the classroom isn’t the only place in which to accomplish her ‘mission’ in life.
I wonder about my ‘mission’. Do I have one? Surely I must. Will I recognize it when it occurs? Might I be distracted and miss its arrival? Has it come and gone?
Heather, the perpetual teacher, probably without even knowing, has taught me something more. I see in her that it isn’t so important to know your ‘mission’ as it is to trust your ‘mission’ knows you. Through her, all of which I am gathering on this, my 49th year journey, is beginning to come together.
·         Keeping an open heart & mind to life
·         Courage to honor the whispers of life followed by
·         Bravery to work hard & be dedicated to the mission(s)
·         Wisdom to know life’s mission(s) isn’t contained within a single ‘classroom’
·         Embrace the occasional ‘you’re the best ever’
·         Fearlessly go forth even if it’s against the ‘bureaucracy’, the norm, even the neighbors
·         Trust the Universe, the Great Creator, just trust and ‘it’ shall be
Oh, yes, one more thing; writing the DLR, Daily LIFE Review, on the bedroom door is now highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. what a beautiful tribute to your daughter. i don't think there can be a higher compliment to a teacher than for a student to acknowledge how they have shaped them. congrats on son's graduation. DLR - i should try that.