Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
Miss Arnold, Mrs. Estes, and Mrs. McKinney were my first-, second-, and third-grade teachers. They brought me all the way from a basic understanding of words—courtesy of Dick and Jane—to a command of long division. That is quite a journey. They were responsible for us from the minute we set foot on the school grounds until the minute we ran out of the building at 3:00 p.m. at the sound of the bell. They knew Mr. Ingram, the principal, had their back when it came to discipline. They supervised our play time, our lunchtime, and every minute of the school day. Their only break was when Miss Red took us off for music and quickly brought us back.
In the last few months, we have experienced too many tragedies involving elementary schools. I am not sure our old school nurse would have been up to the kind of injuries we see now. What has really stuck with me are the stories of teachers shielding their students from wind or bullets with their own bodies. I think we know that teachers care about children. I think we know that they are heroes to us for managing thirty very active people all day. But I don’t think we often acknowledge that they are willing to lay down their lives instinctively for the life of a child.
It is not just the teachers. I had a bus driver who also owned a tavern. Some mornings he looked pretty rough. Whenever any driver ignored the bus stop sign, he jumped into action and educated that driver in the clearest—and bluest—of words. We learned language from lots of places.
We acknowledge at baptism that the whole church community is needed to raise a child. That community also includes people beyond the church, who—while they did not make a vow that day— nonetheless care about the welfare of our children. As we wind down our eventful 2012–2013 school year, let us give thanks for all of those people. And let us ask God to help us to be those people, too.