I recently participated in an enrichment program for high school students. The point of the program was to teach teenagers a little about what lawyers do and to answer their questions about college.
We got some thank you letters back from one class of kids recently and I was touched by some of the things they said. A good number of them called me out for kudos. Some thought I was funny. Some liked that I taught them about the importance of word choice in written communication. One of them said something like “its nice to know that someone from a background like ours can go on and become a lawyer.”
I was thinking about their words today and about the importance of teachers in my own life. It made me think about my Abuelita Nena.
She was a “profesora rural” in northern Mexico. That meant she was responsible for teaching in an one-room adobe school house. During the day, she taught the kids that were too little to help on the farm. At night, she taught the adult farmers. She taught everything–astronomy, history, math, calligraphy, singing, reading, art, etc. My mom kept her lesson books. In handwriting more perfect than anything I’ve ever seen were lesson plans, drawings, thoughts on her students, and the lyrics of the songs she sang with her students. When I review those school books, I imagine her writing them out by the light of a lantern.
Teaching then, as now, didn’t provide much in the way of riches. My abuelita lived in a simple adobe house for her whole life and never knew what it was like to live in a house with running water. Nevertheless, she was proud that she had had the opportunity to contribute as “la profesora.” I was proud of her too and glad that some of her skill is in my blood.
© Laura Genao 2007