Lancaster CSD

Please thank the teacher who transformed you

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     The blue, two-foot tall block words on the back wall say, “There are no dumb questions.”

     And those big, blue words are the first thing I notice when I walk into Buster Ledford’s classroom.

     I’m a sophomore at Independence High, and I’m scared.

     Scared because, well, because I’m a sophomore – and most sophomore boys are pretty much scared all the time.

     Of girls – should I ask her to go “Scorting” in my ‘85 Escort (Actually, it’s my mom’s car)?

     Of wearing the wrong things – my Bruce Springsteen Tee? My parachute pants? My Reeboks (I couldn’t afford Air Jordans)?

     Of my mullet not being combed just right – business in the front, party in the back.

     Of taking “real” high school courses for the first time – like Buster Ledford’s Biology 1 class, the class with the blue, two-foot tall words on the wall at the back.

     Buster Ledford’s scary.

     A Lumbee with straight jet black hair combed across his forehead.

     Built like a really, really, really squat transformer.

     And a former head football coach. Gruff. No-nonsense. Say-it-one-time-and-it-better-be-done.

     So I sit there scared the first few weeks.

     But Mr. Ledford’s a really great teacher. Really great.

     He has total control in his class so I don’t have to be scared.

     He’s ahead of his time with a lot of the strategies he uses to help us understand, remember.

     He always shows us pictures when he teaches concepts – a picture of a dog running in the woods near a pond to help us remember the characteristics of living things. They all move. They all need food. They all need air.

     He doesn’t hide behind his desk.

     He walks around the room carrying one of those old square yardsticks. His pointer, his make-my-gestures-grander, his pound-on-the-desk when what he’s saying really needs to be remembered.

     He’s funny and makes learning about mitochondria fun.

     And most of all, he’s interested in us, cares about us, is there for us.

     Only a few weeks into the semester, I have an after-class ritual – wait til pretty much everyone else has left, walk by his desk so I get to hear his, “See ya, Moose, hope your day’s good.”

     That’s the nickname he gives me.

     He gives each of us a nickname. Now I’m thinking it’s probably because he couldn’t remember our names.

     But to the sophomore-boy me, it’s the coolest thing ever.

     And that nickname sticks the rest of high school.

     So cool.

     Buster Ledford’s the reason I’m a teacher.

     I take a science class from him every year til I graduate.

     I find out later he quit coaching football because he wanted to get back to teaching fulltime.

     And I’m so glad he did.

     He gives me confidence. He’s a great role model. He’s always there when I need to talk.

     And he changes my life.

     That’s what all great teachers do.

     Again and again and again, teachers make such a profound difference in their students’ lives.

     Every day.

     I hope parents and students find time during Teacher Appreciation Weeks – April 29-May 5 – to say special thank you’s to our teachers.

     We have awesome, caring teachers dedicating their lives to helping every child succeed.

     They deserve huge thank-yous.

     Every day.

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Please thank the teacher who transformed you