Beyond the Walls

The department works to honor Tennessee teachers every day, but we are especially excited to celebrate educators during National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9.

Mia Hyde serves as the coordinator of reading content and resources, but she is also the proud parent of three Tennessee students. Here she reflects on three life lessons her boys have learned from Tennessee educators.

By Mia Hyde

Mia with her three boys

I have the great honor of working with wonderful Tennessee educators through my work with the Tennessee Department of Education.  But I also have the great honor of working with wonderful Tennessee educators as a parent.  I have three sons, ages 15, 13 and 9, who attend public schools in Tennessee.  This has been an exciting year in education for my children and, as we celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to share three lessons my sons have learned that will extend far beyond the walls of the classroom.

My youngest son, Joshua, is in third grade. Third grade marks an entry into more independent learning and reading of longer, more challenging texts.  One fall morning while driving Joshua to school, he mentioned that his teacher, Mrs. O’Dell, was asking his class to read the same text several times.  Joshua didn’t understand why he needed to read something more than once.  He thought after reading it once he was done!  Mrs. O’Dell taught Joshua that each time you read a challenging text, your understanding deepens, and you can begin to apply what you learn after you re-read.   I’m so thankful that Mrs. O’Dell taught Joshua this important understanding early in his educational career because I know it will help him throughout his life.

My middle son, Samuel, is in seventh grade.  Samuel learns in non-traditional ways, and he is very creative.  Samuel enjoys drawing and often listens best when he is doodling.  I’m so thankful for his art teacher, Mrs. Gricunas, who values Samuel and his learning style.  This year, Mrs. Gricunas selected Samuel to be an “art assistant” for one of his related arts classes.  This has helped Samuel to learn how to lead in an area that is a strength for him and that his gifts are valued and can be used in useful ways.  I know that this experience has given him confidence and skills that will help him throughout his life.

My oldest son, Thomas, is in ninth grade.  Moving to the high school has been exciting for the entire family.   Thomas enjoys taking challenging classes and he likes to work hard.  He had the great honor of having Mrs. Duer for Honors English this year.  Mrs. Duer challenged Thomas.  He learned that it’s okay if he doesn’t always know the right answer.  He learned that school isn’t always easy and struggling is good.  He learned to persevere and, most importantly, he learned that he likes Shakespeare! I know that these are important insights to gain about oneself that will serve him well as he pursues his dreams.

Each one of my boys has learned something valuable this year that will enrich their lives beyond the walls of the classroom.  Teachers know the standards and content that they teach students each year.  As a parent, I’m thankful for these teachings, but I am also thankful for the lifelong skills that their teachers have instilled.  I entrust my boys to Tennessee teachers every day and I am truly appreciative of the gifts they have given my boys.