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I'm often asked what influenced me to go into education, and I always say it started with my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Fredrickson. From the first day of school at age six, I realized that I never wanted to be anything but just like her, and I've never changed my mind.
Every day when the school bell rang, I always knew where I'd find Mrs. Fredrickson. She was always at the door, greeting every one of us with what she called "an H or an H," a hug or a handshake. I always chose the hug. Most of the kids began with a handshake, but by the end of the first month everybody was going for the hugs.
On my birthday she came to my house and she bought me a Little Golden Book. (I know why it's called a Golden Book, because it's one of my most cherished possessions!) She was there for maybe five minutes, but to me it was an eternity!
I remember her being tall, with glasses at the bridge of her nose, but 30 years later I realize her appearance had nothing to do with the impact she had on me. The impact came from her personal touch, her personal caring and always her ability to make me feel like I was special. Every moment that I was in that woman's room, I felt like I was "Teacher's Pet."
And now whenever I talk to teachers, I tell them about her. Because when it comes down to how we really and truly can impact kids the most, it isn't in the curriculum or some program or kit. We can make such tremendous differences on our students' lives with our personal touch, by greeting them with "an H or an H," and by being a teacher who, like Mrs. Fredrickson, can really make them feel special. To me, that's the whole secret to unlocking a child's potential -- being there for them, letting them know that we believe in them. What a difference we can make!
¬1995. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Mentors, Masters and Mrs. MacGregor by Jane Bluestein. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.