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Placing kids with teachers is risky business

Charla Belinski
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I don’t envy the kind of scrutiny teachers are under this time of year. Move-up Day must have them on the edge of their seats wondering if they’ve made a good impression, did they say the right things, will they satisfy their eager new charges? And that’s just the parents!

We parents are a difficult lot when it comes to finding out where our precious, precocious little ones will be placed next year. Pleased? Rarely. Satisfied? Hardly.

The parent’s lament goes something like this:



“Who’s your teacher next year?” “Who’s yours?” “Who’d you get?” We inquire of friends, “Who’s our best bet?”

We pick, pester and prod, seek assurance we’ve got the best. “But I’m doing it all for my child,” you say; don’t worry, so do the rest.



We don’t want Mr. Jones ” he never teaches a thing, but I like that he wears his big college class ring.

Not strict Mrs. Percy, she rules with fear. She wouldn’t be right for sweet Susie this year.

My Danny wants to go to Harvard, you know, so I’ll only accept teachers on the fast track, not slow.

We’ll take the award-winning teacher with the dramatic flair, but I don’t much care for the mousy one with gray hair.

We’ll pass on those fresh out of college and the ones we consider too old. But Mr. Smith? He’s amazing! Or so we’ve been told.

Oh, she biked around the world? That sounds grand. And he hiked through Tibet and foreign lands?

We’ll take them if they can also teach math, but little Johnny’s so smart, he’ll need them time and a half.

We hear stories from parents far and wide: too much homework, too little, too much time on their side.

Not enough academics, too much memorization; this one’s too loose, too much improvisation.

Yet the parents don’t know, they’ve not seen them in action; it’s all parking lot chatter, gossip and factions.

My son got the young one with no kids of her own. I don’t even know if she’s fully grown.

But the other’s no better, with four kids at home, how can she work with my little gnome?

Just like the students who file into their rooms, teachers are full of quirks and concerns.

They’ve got their problems, I’d bet, but possibilities to be sure, and each one as different as the next.

Our own school day memories can cloud what’s best for a child. But it’s their turn ” their memories ” be them ruthless or mild.

Too much candy doled out, too sarcastic, too strict. Which teacher is perfect? Who do you pick?

You don’t, is the answer. The school does; they know best. Each child is loved, and will learn ” just like the rest.

When it comes to placing your child, so much is at stake, and it’s taken quite seriously despite teachers’ full plates.

No teacher is perfect, no student ideal. But mostly they know how everyone feels.

They’ll group Billy with Bobby because that’s a good match and make certain each child learns English and math.

The truth is, you’ll have your debates, disappointments and frowns, then forget all your fears when school rolls around.

No matter how reticent, upset or confused, that bell rings in the fall, and parents say, “Whew!”

No child comes out of school completely unscathed ” and thank God they learn how to handle the pain.

This time next year you’ll be singing the praises of Mrs. Percy, Mr. Jones and all of the rest ” “She’s awesome,” “He’s wonderful,” “Our teacher’s the best!”

You had your experience, this is your child’s, at last. And one thing’s for certain … their teacher’s got class.

Charla Belinski’s column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. E-mail Charla at Belinskis@comcast.net.


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