My first school teacher had a big influence on my life. Jane was short of stature, patient and gentle, with warm eyes. She fostered in us children a deep appreciation of nature. Thanks to her, I’m always glad to see a mouse or a grass snake, while some people might run the other way. Jane used to have our class spread out in the woods – each quietly alone in a separate place. Later she’d gather us again and ask what we’d heard or seen. One time my imagination ran away with me, and I described a wonderful fox. Jane questioned me quite closely about that!
It was only years later that I became aware of another side to my beloved teacher – she wrote poetry! Some of her poems have since been published. (You can find her poems on www.janetysonclement.com). I’m going to share one with you, because it moved me to discover what had been in Jane’s mind while she was teaching. Jane died years ago, but her legacy lives on. Anyone working with young children can make a positive impact – not only now but for decades to come.
Child, though I take your hand
and walk in the snow;
though we follow the track of the mouse together,
though we try to unlock together the mystery
of the printed word, and slowly discover
why two and three make five
always, in an uncertain world –
Child, though I am meant to teach you much,
what is it, in the end,
except that together we are
meant to be children
of the same Father
and I must unlearn
all the adult structure
and the cumbering years
and you must teach me
to look at the earth and the heaven
with your fresh wonder.
– Jane Tyson Clement