It’s that magical time of year again. Shopping carts are filled with endless reams of paper, composition books, glue sticks, and pencils. Big yellow buses are cruising the neighborhood during this season when sneakers are still clean and backpack zippers actually work.
Once again, we send our kiddos out into the great wide world to learn and grow. We’ve spent the summer strengthening their spiritual and familial roots and having all manner of togetherness and now it’s time to let them stretch their wings. Along with the growing and stretching our kids will face, we moms have to stretch a bit, too. We are given a chance to trust in God and share the responsibility of shaping the minds and hearts of our greatest treasures with people we may or may not know personally.
Sounds a bit daunting, doesn’t it? Even for us “experienced” mamas (those of us who’ve boarded the bus a time or two, you might say), new school years bring new challenges. And entrusting our children to veritable strangers isn’t the least on the list.
New adults in their lives
Classroom teachers, catechists, librarians, coaches, music directors, dance teachers, and scout leaders. School administrators, cafeteria workers, nurses, crossing guards, and maintenance staff. Day care providers, extended day teachers, and club moderators. These are just some of the people our children will interact with during their school year. Some of them we select, but many are already part of their school community.
How can we best support the men and women who dedicate so much of their time and talents to our precious children?
The answer is, fellow mamas, we pray.
Love the children first
Way back, many moons and three children ago, I was a fourth-grade classroom teacher at a small Catholic school in Tucson. For the four and a half years I taught there, I had a small card with my favorite quote from Saint Mother Theodore Guerin that I kept displayed right by my plan book:
Love the children first, and then teach them.
I really think that is the ultimate, possibly unspoken, goal of all of these various teachers our kids will encounter. Rare (and probably seriously confused) is the person who gets into any form of teaching or coaching or administration for the glory of it. No, they teach because they have a passion for their subject matter, want to contribute to society, and basically love children!
Let’s pray that their sights remain true to that ultimate goal for the good of our kids and to the glory of God!
As numerous as the stars in the sky
Let’s switch perspective for a quick second, shall we? We’ve been thinking of the many kinds of teachers that will be influencing our kids this school year, but we might also want to consider just how many different kinds of kids these awesome human beings will be responsible for!
Just as God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens (Genesis 26:4), He could make the same promise to teachers. He will give them students as numerous as the crayons at the office supply store and they’ll be every bit as varied.
Teachers want to do their very best for each and every child. They desire to meet every need, fill every gap, and boost every ego. What one child lacks, another has in aces. What one child excels in, another finds as a huge struggle. Skills that come easily to most of the group will be especially challenging for one or two to achieve. Some children are open while others may more slow to warm up.
Let’s pray that God will open the hearts of all teachers this year; that they will see not only the sweet faces of our kids, but the Light of Christ that burns inside each of them. May they recognize that light and use it as a guide to provide for their individual needs as well as for those of the group as a whole.
A mother’s prayer for teachers
Thank you for the gift of good teachers. Thank You for men and women willing to take on the responsibility of shaping the next generation of thinkers and doers.
As the school year starts, grant them strength and courage to face what lies ahead.
Spark their imaginations with ways to reach even the most difficult learner.
When the days are long and the challenges seem too many, grant them peace.
When things go smoothly, let them see Your guiding hand and give You thanks.
When they’re spending their money to make my child’s learning environment more successful and enjoyable, grant them treasures in Heaven.
Please, Lord, give them the grace they need to see You in every preschooler, grade schooler and high-schooler.
Help them respond to the individual needs of each child to the best of their ability.
Protect them from harm, but make them brave and knowledgeable in times of crisis.
May they find strength for the journey in each smile, hug, high five, and newly learned skill.
I know that their job is often a thankless and incredibly demanding one. Help me to support them the best that I can so that my child will know how much I value his/her education and the hard work of others.
Please bless the vocations of my child’s teachers, coaches, administrators, and school staff. Help them truly know what a difference they make in the lives of each child they encounter.
And at the end of each day, may they find rest and replenishment to rise and do it all again tomorrow.
Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, pray for them.
Saint Jean Baptist de la Salle, patron of teachers, pray for them.
In Our Lord Jesus’ name,
Written by Beth Williby. Find out more about her here.