Mrs. Sperre My Mrs. Sunshine!
When you have a mother-like teacher to guide you throughout your education, you find these questions quite easy to answer. As a little girl in first grade, I looked up to this beautiful woman, who was an important part of my everyday school life through to the eighth grade. While we worked on reading, I remember that on my birthday she would make us popcorn in the pull-out setting classroom. I believed I was the luckiest student in the world. In sixth grade, I remember writing a story about her, explaining how she was always there picking me back up on my toughest days. During the eighth grade, I remember writing an article about what a wonderful teacher she was. She would always make me laugh and help me to understand that it was ok to need some help when I struggled. She would always have encouraging and kind words to help pick me back up. I always wondered why she didn’t have a child, but secretly I felt like I was her daughter during school hours. I know I was not alone in wishing to be her kid during school because my friend David felt the same way. She just really loved her students the way a Mom and Dad would. My father was often sick with heart disease and I would worry. My social-emotional state was very fragile in the middle school years and I am thankful she was there to be my in-school “mother.”
As life continued, I invited my “special teacher” to my college graduation to share the beginning of my own special education teaching career with her. Little did I know we would even share some of the same students. We continued our relationship as fellow educators now. I was teaching at the high school level and she was teaching students from kindergarten to eighth grade. She showed consistent, genuine love for her students. I never saw her get angry. Yes, she would be stern if she wanted a student to grow academically, but never was she angry. After my marriage and the birth of my twin boys, she helped advise me and guide them. She would remind me that one son was just like me. She could see that you couldn’t trick him. I was the same way. She even was on the phone with me one day pretending to be Santa’s elf around Christmas time. He didn’t believe it, but it was fun.
Mrs. Sperre not only guided me through my schooling but also continued to support me when I became an educational author. My educational book series is about the methods she used and those that I developed. Mrs. Sperre appears in each of my books as my character “Mrs. Sunshine,” who helps guide not only the students but also their parents to understand what their child is going through. Right before she passed away, she came to support me at my hometown book signing. She was very sick and was fighting cancer, but she came because I was her “special girl” when she was a teacher. She understood me. She understood that I had a strong gift for writing which she had always fostered. Still today, I feel like she is guiding me from heaven. I promised her before she passed away that I would try to fix education, using her approach of loving me like a third parent and always supporting me in school, as all children should feel fully supported while they learn. When I struggled, she would always make me feel like I could conquer the challenge.
I am now teaching through my educational books. Mrs. Sperre was my “Mrs. Sunshine” during school hours, I still feel her rays coming from heaven to support my writing and the teaching approaches I am trying to share.