Book Nerd Guest Post
What is the greatest thing you learned at school?
My middle school Spanish teacher, Mr. Delgado, scared me our first year together. As we reviewed homework answers row by row, he’d look over his reading glasses from his lectern. If you didn’t have an answer, he’d place a check on a mysterious paper while saying, “Uh-huh,” exposing our inadequacies to the whole class. Then there were his tests, where I sometimes got grades like 49 / 115 (Yep. Still remember my exact score).
I stuck it out with Mr. Delgado in Spanish II. When I asked him to sign my yearbook, he wrote, “To a fine student and equally fine young lady.” (I remember those exact words, too). Even with those awful tests and homework slip ups, he thought I was a fine student, and even better, a fine person. It made me feel pretty special. I asked Mr. Delgado if I could be his eighth-grade aide. Because even though he was gruff, I realized I kinda liked him and I would miss being in his classroom.
My junior year in high school I took Honors English with Mrs. Mangold. She was fun and creative and did off-the-wall things, like wear a homemade Marge Simpson wig gifted to her by a student who swore she and Marge were twins. As much as she made my favorite subject even more exciting, the thing I most remember about Mrs. Mangold is how interested she was in my life outside of school. She'd remember my special events. She'd ask questions about what I was reading in my free time. She told me I was important without ever saying those words directly.
I wasn’t always a fan of school, which is strange, because I ended up being a teacher. A big reason I decided to teach was because of those small but hugely significant moments Mr. Delgado and Mrs. Mangold gave me. They recognized me outside of my academic failures and successes. They saw me for me.
“You matter” is 100 times more important to a child than anything else a teacher can say. It's the gift that makes a student feel safe, helps her want to do her best, shapes her into the adult she will become.
Thank you, Hector Delgado and Sheri Mangold, for teaching me this. I’m grateful to this day.
Amid the strife, Alis meets and befriends Kimi, a Roanoke girl about her age. Though the two don’t even speak the same language, these girls form a special bond as close as sisters, willing to risk everything for the other. Finally, Alis must make an impossible choice when her family resolves to leave the island and bloodshed behind.
A beautiful, tender story of friendship and the meaning of family, Caroline Starr Rose delivers another historical gem.