To conclude the school year, elementary school teachers from Stults Road Elementary School and retired teachers living at Presbyterian Village North came together for a special end-of-school-year mixer to reminisce and share stories. The senior living community hosted the special event and presented the teachers with school supplies they collected all month. Linda Flores, a fourth-grade teacher with eight years of experience, and Ester Moffitt, a retired teacher with more than 30 years of experience in East Dallas, have some heartwarming and hilarious stories to share in light of the end of the school year.
“When you have taught for more than 30 years, there are many things that go on and you have many stories to share,” said Moffitt. “I spent most of my years teaching first-graders, but dabbled in teaching curriculum and development, special reading, as well as staff development. While visiting with the teachers from Stults Road, we had some interesting stories to discuss. For starters, a little girl in my class came to school one day and said her mother got married again last night. I prompted her, asking her what she meant by again, and she relayed it was her mother’s sixth marriage and that she now had six dads. Well it wasn’t too long before we hosted an open house at the school and a gentleman came in and sat down by her desk. Then before I knew it, five more gentlemen had joined him! All six of her dads showed up, visited with each other, had a great time, left together and went out to eat together. This speaks volumes for the love each of them had for that little girl.”
At open houses, Moffitt used to tell parents, “I’ll only believe half of what they tell me about you if you only believe half of what they tell you about me.” It kept things lighthearted. Another time, Moffitt looked over to see a boy with his head stuck in the desk. It was an old fashioned desk, welded together, with a tray underneath the desktop to hold tablets, colors and writing utensils. The desk had an opening on each side and this boy had dropped his crayons through the back end. He slid his head through the opening trying to retrieve his crayons and got stuck. Moffitt sent one student to the cafeteria to tell the head cafeteria lady that he needed a tub of lard and that he’d explain later. She then sent another to the principal’s office and with instructions for him to come to her classroom immediately. They eventually called the paramedics, who showed up with their jaws of life, but her trick with putting the lard over his ears helped free his head from the desk. She recalls everyone was really scared there for a while.
“Anybody who has 30 or more years of teaching under their belt is going to have plenty of stories,” said Moffitt. “Sometimes there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to teach kids, but if you have a real passion for it you overlook the trying times. You have to love it, because you’re wasting a child’s education if your heart is not in it. It takes a special kind of love and patience. I always advise teachers to look for the good qualities that reside in children and encourage it once you figure out what that is. Once, I had a child who was about to be referred for special education because he could not read a first-grade book and he was in the sixth grade. I discovered, however, that if I put a math problem up on the board, he could solve it before I was done putting it up. So I ordered a high school algebra book and taught him to read and excel in other areas of his education. He just blossomed after that and ended up getting a four-year scholarship to The University of Texas at Austin. Seeing kids mature, grow and shine is the most rewarding part of the job.”
When Moffitt was not teaching and helping children excel, she spent her summers doing anything where people would have no idea she was a teacher. She worked at an army supply diesel, as a cosmetics specialist, at Montgomery Ward and other places. Flores said that she enjoys spending her summers with her family and friends, preparing for the next school year and taking some time to do things she isn’t able to do during the school year. She became a teacher because she wanted to invest in the lives of others, and felt like working with kids was the best route.
“I thoroughly enjoyed attending the teacher mixer at Presbyterian Village North,” said Flores. “We swapped many stories, and it was so nice to be able to spend the afternoon with some great former teachers. I loved getting to chat with them, and I felt very encouraged by all of their positive comments. It was interesting to hear how things have changed over time, and how some of their stories were very similar to what we as teachers see today. One lady shared a story about how her students made her a cake. She wasn’t sure if she should eat it, but knew they had worked hard on it, so braved it and ate the cake anyways. Then, she treated them to ice cream as a thank you. It was evident that these former teachers loved their kids as much as I do.”
Flores shared that she is grateful for the volunteers from PVN who come over to the school to read to the students, and that the school appreciates that the residents collect books and school supplies for them. She thinks it is wonderful that these seniors are willing to take the time to nurture the students and invest in their lives. She also said that it is a great way for the school to get involved with the community and show the students how important it is to create valuable relationships with people who do so much for them.
“I feel like a part of my job is to not only teach my students, but to be a loving and caring figure in their lives,” said Flores. “The thing I love the most about teaching is when the students come back to share memories of our time together. The best advice I like to give to all my students is to always believe in themselves. I want my students to believe that with hard work, dedication and persistence they can overcome anything.”
“It was a pleasure hosting the teacher mixer at Presbyterian Village North so everyone could wrap up the school year with some laughs, helpful advice and heartwarming memories,” said Ron Kelly, executive director of Presbyterian Village North. “We value the relationships we have with our neighbors and strive to create opportunities for these relationships to grow. Our residents benefit from it as much as the teachers and students at Stults do.”