My mother, Rebecca Worthen Chandler, was named Teacher of the Year at a charter school in North Carolina where she teaches English, bringing an unexpectedly buoyant end to what has been one of the toughest years of her 36-year career.
The award “floored” her, she said, because by the last day of school, all she could think about was what she wished she had accomplished. She didn’t give personal feedback on all her students’ papers. She wasn’t able to set up individual writing conferences for everyone. She never made it to the games.
“You know in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ where the Queen says she thinks about six impossible things before breakfast?” she said. “I feel like teachers do six impossible things and probably don’t have breakfast.”
For most of her career, she taught middle-school English at a private girls school in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where class sizes were small and college ambition was assumed, and where she was able to make a first-rate education affordable for my sisters and me (and to be our eighth-grade English teacher.)