Christina A. Sharik


Christina A. Sharik: The TeacherTwo teachers I remember;
one with hurt and one with smiles –
if you care to spend a minute,
I’ll take you back a little while…

One teacher taught us English
and she had had a stroke
she was an older lady
who had taught my DAD, poor bloke

I was small in those days
and my hands weren’t very strong
I sat in the front seat –
I had a job that was all wrong –

She’d hand out reams of paper
I was to fold in half
then tear them all, quite neatly,
pass them back,
and hope the others didn’t laugh…

The paper was too thick for me
And tears my eyes would blind
I never tore them right in half,
so I could pass them on behind

I never learned a thing from her
because I was afraid
she shouldn’t have been teaching
I don’t tear paper neatly to this day.

The second teacher, younger,
had traveled ‘round the globe
she brought back little tidbits
dolls, and rocks, an Oriental robe –

And when we studied Asia,
she showed us cloth of silk
and when we studied England
she’d bring scones we had with milk –

One day for show and tell she said
to bring something that we had,
I hadn’t yet been anywhere
so I asked a question of my dad –

Could I take some Chinese things
that he’d brought back from war
and take them for the show and tell?
I thought it would mean more…

And so I took a Chinese scarf
embroidered with bright mums
and a picture book with Chinese soldiers
and others holding guns…

He let me take some other things,
his Japanese flag with holes
and last but not the least of all
some pretty Chinese bowls.

He drove me to the school that day
so I wouldn’t drop his treasures
He didn’t have too much to say
except to say Life measures

not in only what you learn
or take to school that day
or what the teacher teaches you
or what children have to say –

He said Life will teach you, Christy,
what’s important and what’s not
Someday I’ll tell the story of those
items that you’ve got.

I got out of daddy’s car and walked
slowly to the room –
the other kids had figurines
and one a handmade broom –

Someone had an African doll,
one had ivory birds with wings
and I began to wonder if I’d
brought all the wrong “show” things –

Well, my name began with P
and so, I waited for awhile –
while others did their show and tell
and I watched the Teacher smile…

Finally, it was my turn and
I headed to the front –
She had a little table there
where I placed my offerings

Just like the boy had done
with the ivory birds with wings.
I was a shy girl way back then
I didn’t know where to start
and finally, I took a breath
and spoke straight from my heart…

These are my father’s things, I said,
I’ve never been too far
Except for country trips, and off
to see Grandmother in the car –

But my Daddy went to World War II
and brought these things back home
so I brought them in today
I have no treasures of my own –

The teacher wasn’t smiling
I began to feel some fear
I faltered in my speaking when I saw
a single tear –

I wanted to get back to my seat
so I hurried through my speech
about my father’s captured flag
the pictures of his men, Chinese,
and how he’d been to India
and Burma on the globe;
and how he loaned his treasures to me
(although they weren’t like her silk robe)…

When I got through there were no smiles,
no laughter and no praise –
just silence in the classroom,
and my heart beating
in a million different ways

Till the teacher said to all of us:
I’ve been around the world –
I’ve seen a lot of good of things
yet, here’s this little girl

Whose dad has done us honor
He’s shared his “geography” with us
and some history, as well,
The world’s not always beautiful
Sometimes beauty’s mixed with
embroidery and hell…

Go home and ask your parents
about Korea, World War Two
see if you can get them
to speak of it to you…

She hugged me and she told me
in her clear, sweetest, voice,
to thank my dad, for her,
and I was glad I’d made my choice.

I felt I’d done a good thing
although I didn’t know quite how;
as I type this poem, some of the
items are in this room right now…

The School Board didn’t like her methods
they thought she didn’t “fit”
before she left, she said these words,
and I never did forget –

Travel when you can, she said,
Learn all kinds of different things
and if you cannot get there
there are books and folks to talk to
so use your mind and spread your wings.

Well, I have not forgotten her,
she wasn’t there next year
I still don’t know what happened
but I remember that one tear

And I hope she is still traveling
on this earth or in the stars
for she was my greatest teacher
and in my mind, I’ve traveled far.

Submitted for the March 2002 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “The Teacher