TODAY MARKS THE END of Christmas vacation for my Kathy Ann—two weeks off from piano teaching and the daily schedule. After 35 plus years of public school teaching, Kathy ‘retired’ several years ago, only to open her own home piano studio, where she teaches about 20 students. She teaches them well—very well—with a combination of skill, heart, patience, care, and warmth. Each year they do wonderfully in the annual piano instructors ‘contest’, where they perform their pieces before judges and try to show the poise and skills appropriate to their age and level of instruction. But more than that, each day of the week her students show up for their lessons—more often than not excited about what they are playing, and eager to improve their abilities with the help of ‘Mrs. Wood.’
But they also just chat. Share what they have been doing in school and at home, how they are feeling, how things are going. And Mrs. Wood listens with a caring ear, smiles her gentle smile, takes the time to share a bit of her students’ lives. As she has always done. She is a special, wonderful teacher.
For the last two years, lessons have been a bit more of a challenge, as—for safety and health reasons—all the lessons have taken place virtually, on a screen. And I have marveled at how students still look forward to that time, still strive to play their best, and Mrs. Wood listens closely, relates warmly, passes on instruction and tips and renews confidence in young minds and hearts and hands. And everyone sticks with it.
Now, after a couple weeks of planning—and magnificently pulling off—multiple family visits, Christmases, birthdays, feasts, and other activities, Kathy—Mrs. Wood—begins teaching again. All teachers, everywhere, have had a challenging, difficult time these past two years. And we do not know when, or necessarily if, things are going to get easier. I hold them all up in my heart, and thank them for strong and selfless and even heroic work, on behalf of the children who need them. Maybe even love them.
Teachers are helping the world to keep turning, in a navigable, manageable, predictable, safe and loving way. And I just want to say thank you. Especially to the one who lives in this little cabin in the pines, Mrs. Wood. The best teacher I know.