Gifts of Opportunity


 by Frances Peacock

A teacher’s job doesn’t come with a lot of fancy opportunities.

Do I get to drive my own company car?   Sure, if you’d like to roll around in something that’s long, yellow, and seats 50. We’ll even give you a window seat.

Will I ever see my name on the front of the building?   If so, it means somebody’s in trouble for graffiti.  Please get a bucket of hot water and a scrub brush, and meet us outside.

Is there a promotion in my future?   Absolutely!  As soon as Mrs. Jones retires, you can be in charge of the 7 a.m. chess club.

All of this is fine with me.  I didn’t become a teacher so I could climb a corporate ladder in a swanky office downtown.  I’m not here for the big opportunities.  I’m here for the small ones.

Opportunities.  They roll around the classroom like loose crayons. They’re here all day, just waiting to be picked up.  If I’m smart,  I’ll notice them, and I won’t let them go by.

Kindness.  In a room full of children, the chances to show kindness are everywhere.  I can place a bandage on a child’s thumb after he shuts his pencil box on it.  I  can share my gloves  with a child who forgot his.

Then there’s patience.  A teacher gets plenty of chances for this one.  If I’m patient, I’ll give a slow reader all the time in the world, instead of moving on to the next person.  If I’m patient, I’ll smile and wait while a child pulls a mud-covered knot out of his shoelace, even if it makes the whole class late for music.

Forgiveness.  In the classroom,  with a little forgiveness, things can be made new again.  A rude word can be washed off a desk and forgotten.   A hot-tempered girl can have one more chance to settle down and be wonderful.  With a little forgiveness, every day can start anew… even if it’s 3:30 and it’s time to go home.

Every day,  I am  given a wonderful gift – the opportunity to practice some real-life virtues.  The same virtues I once read about in my catechism book are here, and being offered to me. Every day.  Whether I’m ready or not.

Thank goodness for teachers?  I prefer to thank goodness for my students.  Blest am I when I am shown the way to imitate Christ.

My students are my guides.  They take me by the hand, and lead me.

They are the people who arrive two hours late for school, with stomach growling.  Maybe I can give them a granola bar to hold them together til lunch.  They  are the people who have no winter coat. Maybe I can stop at Wal-Mart after school and pick one up.

Every morning, the big yellow buses pull up in front of school.  The children hop off.  They bring me their homework, their notes from home, and their needs.

It’s a lovely and important gift, to have the chance to serve a group of children. To do my best to offer myself, in any circumstance, with an approach filled with love.  In the course of a school day, the moments come fast and swift.

I hope I never miss the opportunity.

(This post was inspired by Mother Angelica of EWTN, who said, “We all have the ability to be great saints.  Don’t miss the opportunity.”)

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