She Changed Shane’s Life.

When dropping off Dylan at school one morning, while it was still dark since the sun hadn’t yet popped over the horizon, a woman approached my car.

“I know this might sound creepy,” she said, “but did your son go to Graceland Preschool?”

Interestingly, Shane did go to Graceland Preschool!

“Not this son,” I said, pointing at Dylan, who was sitting next to me. “But my other son did.”

“Shane?” she said.


“I was his teacher,” she said.

She was unfamiliar to me, except for her smile. Formerly a large redhead, she was now a 100-pound blond. And apparently, she now teaches at Dylan’s school. We chatted for a few minutes, her apologizing for approaching me after ten years, and me professing my undying love for her. Then she went inside.

Dylan asked, “Was she really Shane’s preschool teacher?”

I nodded. “She changed Shane’s life.”

Then I realized that I probably never told the teacher that she changed Shane’s life. And teachers should know that their work truly makes a difference. So when I got home, I emailed her the following story:
One day after school, you pulled me aside to talk to me. You said that Shane spent his entire playtime with his head in the dollhouse. It was a little, tiny dollhouse – so he just stuck his head inside, quietly. You talked to him and asked him to come out, but he wouldn’t. He was very sad that day, and that was how he handled the emotion. (Someone had told Shane to get off the slide, hence the terrific sadness.)
That was an eye-opening experience for me, as a parent. Shane is the younger brother of a VERY high maintenance child. Older brother has ADHD and other issues that Shane doesn’t have, so Shane got very little attention. In fact, Shane was pretty much raising himself. He was a very easy child.
But when I heard about the dollhouse, I realized that we needed to do something. We needed to look at ways to specifically boost Shane’s self-confidence, encourage him to speak up, and give him positive reinforcements when he was doing something right. Up until that day, we’d just let that good behavior go unnoticed.
As parents, then, we changed. We started paying closer attention to Shane, getting genuinely excited when he did things well, making a point of complimenting him. We created a poster with a huge picture of Shane. We put adjectives all around the picture – words like “funny” and “calm” and “smart.” It was a reminder that so much about him is good. And that poster is still hanging in his room, ten years later.
Shane is still an incredibly “easy child.” He’s in 7th grade now, and he is peaceful, laid-back and kind. Best of all, he feels good about himself. He knows he’s okay, just the way he is. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker and very bright, so he can be a little weird. But he’s okay with that, too.
And that – seriously – is because of you. Because you took the time to tell me what happened, to talk about Shane’s rough playtime, to show me that tiny dollhouse. You took the time to care about what Shane was feeling. Not every teacher does that – even in preschool – and we are eternally grateful to you for that.
I can’t believe I forgot to say all that to you this morning, but I am glad that I can tell you now. Thanks so much for saying hello this morning.
And then I decided the story is worth sharing with the whole world, too.

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