My mom, Milly Harden, recently was named the 2013 Edna Folger Outstanding Teacher.
I cannot begin to describe how proud I am. It was the absolute best moment I have had as a daughter. I was overwhelmed with pride as I watched a room full of community leaders applaud my mom for her years of dedication to changing the lives of children.
I will share some of the comments made by colleagues and former parents and students in her nomination packet, but first I want to share what it was like to grow up with an outstanding teacher as a mother.
From the moment I was born, I had a personal tutor living with me 24 hours a day. She has been my counselor, my guardian and my best friend.
Our home was a full-time classroom. When my brother and I were toddlers, everything in our house was labeled in bright, easy to read letters: “table,” “chair,” “yellow phone.” There was a lesson in everything. At dinner, she would ask us to count the peas on our plates. In the car she would ask us to practice giving a speech. One of her biggest pet peeves was slang. She insisted that walking was pronounced “walk-ING,” not “walk-IN.”
She was a very loving and supportive teacher/mom. The first time I tied my shoes or zipped a jacket she cheered as if I had received a gold medal.
She taught me that passion, hard work and perseverance should be at the core of everything I do, and that enthusiasm and humor go a long way.
She had very high expectations for me and always explained the importance of being able to think independently.
Today, I cannot begin to describe my pride, admiration, love and gratitude for my mom and lifetime teacher. I hope one day I will become the strong, independent, kind and loving woman my mom is. There is a quote that often makes me think of my mom: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
The following comments will give you just a glimpse into why Milly Harden is an outstanding teacher.
From a colleague: I have witnessed Milly using her nurturing abilities to pull out the absolute best in each student year after year. It is her gift, to be able to have each child become their very best while they are in her class, and the students willingly will go the “extra mile” for her, just because they hold her in such high regard. She has served to inspire me with her tireless dedication to her students.
From a former principal: Many encouraging phrases are heard throughout the day in her classroom and hallways: “You can do it, baby!”; “Great job, baby!”; “I am so proud of you, kiddo!” She is a master teacher who gives of her time and talents tirelessly.
From a former parent and colleague: Milly was so full of enthusiasm for life and for learning that it was contagious. The kids could not help catching that attitude themselves. My son Joseph came to this country from Haiti when he was 6. I will never forget the first day of school in Milly’s class when he came out the door and said, “Mommy, my teacher is an angel!” The students she has had are not just better educated; they are better people for having had Milly Harden for a teacher.
From a former student: Mrs. Harden is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I decided in high school that I wanted to have the same impact that I saw Mrs. Harden have on elementary school children’s lives. I only hope that I can have a similar impact on my students.
From a former student: Mrs. Harden offered me the stability I did not have at home. She always had a smile on her face and made me feel comfortable in her class. To this day, when I think about Mrs. Harden, I always picture her beautiful smile. I am so blessed to have been one of her students.
From a former student: Mrs. Harden has, is and always will be an influential figure in my life.
She is warm, dedicated and the kind of teacher I can only hope every child has at one time in their life. I am so fortunate it happened so early in my life.
Paige Harden is a community columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are those of the columnist.
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