A few weeks ago, one of my students from last year handed me a letter about his church honoring teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. I think he actually invited me last year but I didn’t go. Dad came with me and we weren’t sure what to expect. Secretly, I was hoping for a “hands up Hallelujah” service. I wasn’t disappointed.
The church was crumbling a bit around the edges and my dad commented that he was usher in a wedding at this same church 45 years ago, but he didn’t think it was still a Presbyterian church. I wish I’d had a camera to capture Krishon’s smile when he saw me at his church. I’ve never seen him smile that big at school.
It started with about 15 minutes of beautiful singing from 5 or so choir members in ill fitting robes. One was a very young man who looked as though he “wasn’t there”. The a woman who I thought was the preacher came out and I guess “testified” talking about God’s greatness in her heart and how blessed we were to have our teachers.
There was some more singing and then the preacher stepped up. She was a beautiful black lady in a teal robe trimmed with gold lace. Let me tell you, she gave her congregation chapter and verse on how it is up to parents to back up the teachers and make education possible for students and how we should have high expectations for the children. She had obviously spent time in our school because she told exactly what goes on at our school and that if parents realize students are having too many “red” days they should spend some time at the school instead of getting their hair done, supporting the teachers and making clear the requirements to the students. There were plenty of “Amens” and “Hallelujah’s”, “That’s Right!” and “Tell it like it is!” all during the service. Pass the peace time came and Dad said he’d never been hugged by so many large, overweight women in his life. It was quite different from the stoic form of worship we’re used to. I thought it was quite beautiful and honest they way everyone opened their heart.
I wasn’t expecting this but they had a little ceremony and called each of the teachers in the congregation up with our students and gave us each a little award plaque. Krishon was smiling and smiling the whole time and I really felt honored. Afterwards there was cake and juice in their tutoring center which was in a house next door that the church had converted. In truth, it seemed to be maintained better than the church with fresh paint, new computers and murals on the wall.
Throughout the week that followed, Krishon would bring up my visit to the church whenever he could. “Wasn’t that cake at my church so good, Ms. B?” Once he got in trouble and I asked him what Pastor Cece would say. The hangdog look on his face was priceless.
I hope he invites me again next year.