This afternoon, everyone in Connor's school received a note that Mrs. R. - Connor's beloved gifted teacher - would not be returning to school. She has pancreatic cancer. I read the email and then my heart just broke in two. Literally. I can feel a hole right in the middle of it. It's a hole that holds anxiety about public school, worries about Connor's future, and the part of me that wondered would he always have a teacher who loved him. Mrs. R. filled all those holes so nicely. She kept all those worries to a minimum.
Mrs. R. loves Connor, and he loves her right back. I had always thought that the singular best thing about his being in the gifted program was that he'd have a consistent teacher for all five years of elementary school. He meets with her a couple of times a week, and more than once she has remarked to me that she can't wait to see how far he will go. Her eyes dance when she talks about him. She believes in him - and in my book - that belief goes a long way towards ensuring he'll have a successful elementary school experience.
Every time I have seen the two of them encounter each other at an after-school activity or in the hallway, she smiles and Connor is happy to see her. I just know she made Connor comfortable in school. Connor really grooves on seeing Mrs. R. with only 1 - 3 other students. It's a nice small group, it's not noisy or chaotic like his regular class can be, and she teaches him things that occasionally blow his mind away. Most recently, he came home with a set of problems about Jane sitting next to Judy and across from Jill and when Ed and I looked at them, we had flashbacks to our days of taking ACTs, SATs, and GREs. Connor loves figuring stuff like that out.
Mrs. R. is an artist and a totally free-form thinker. Just like every other gifted teacher I've ever known, her thoughts don't come to her in a linear pattern. She is a hoot to chat with, because she always has interesting ideas. I know Connor benefited from her tutelage greatly, even if their relationship was brief.
At Christmas, I was up at school volunteering in Connor's classroom and I ducked out of the room to see Mrs. R. I'm so glad we were able to chat that day. I hope we get the chance to do so again.