When I retired, I wondered aloud to my high school students, “What will I be when I’m not a teacher anymore?” Being a teacher was my identity; teaching was my way of life. One of the young men replied, “Mrs. Dougherty, don’t worry about it. You will always be a teacher.”
So many years later I realized the truth of his statement. One of my good friends, who has never been a cook, wanted to host Easter dinner and make everything herself. Since I had promised her cooking lessons as a Christmas present several years ago, she asked me to teach her the basics of pot roast with root vegetables. I demonstrated, I guided, she practiced, and it turned out beautifully.
On the big day she followed the plan and even tweaked it to add grilled vegetables to the menu as well as deviled eggs and rice. The meas was a success. She called me Monday to say that she would never have had the courage to cook for guests if it hadn’t been for the lessons.
That’s what teaching is all about. Not only do teachers demonstrate, but we encourage, we give our students the fundamentals and also the means to move forward in a positive way. I’m not sure my former student meant, “Mrs. Dougherty, you will always be a teacher,” as a compliment, but I decided to take it as one. Being a teacher isn’t something one can eliminate from one’s biography.