A "Real" Teacher - Hannah Orr

Jan 29, 2018

Since coming on staff at Sonlight this past fall, that is a term I've heard thrown around, usually something like "she's a real teacher" or "oh, I'm not a real teacher.”


Many of the teachers at Sonlight have not come from an education background. They were engineers, IT personal, stay-at-home moms, high school students, and everything in between. They left careers and familiarity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the students in Port-de-Paix. I, on the other hand, came to Sonlight as a certified teacher - which basically just means I paid a lot of money for a degree and a piece of paper that says I'm legally allowed to teach elementary students in the state of Illinois. I had a few years of classroom experience before I became the 4th grade teacher at Sonlight. However, none of those things make me a "real teacher". The paperwork is essentially that - just paper. And that paper really doesn't mean a whole lot when you are actually standing in front of a room full of children.


Do you want to know what makes a real teacher?


A real teacher is dedicated. They spend hours planning and working in their classrooms, preparing and making sure they have done their absolute best to be ready for the students. Drive by any school in America way after school hours, and you'll see at least one car, belonging to a teacher who's sacrificing their "free time" to prepare for their students. Likewise, walk down the halls of Sonlight Academy in the afternoon or the weekend, and you'll find plenty of teachers planning and working - without air conditioning, no less!


A real teacher is also adaptable. They are always looking for new and better ways to meet the needs of their students. Pick up any computer of one the Sonlight teachers and you'll find that their search history is filled with teaching blogs, interactive videos, and resource websites. A real teacher goes above and beyond the curriculum at hand, just to make sure their students learn. This adaptability stretches to more than just the lesson plans - a real teacher makes changes to their classroom management when needed, switching things up to best help their students. I've watched as the teachers at Sonlight rearrange their seating charts or their schedules, always willing to try something new - even when it means spending Saturday night moving around 30 tiny desks!


But most importantly of all, a real teacher cares. They care about their students. The children who come through our doors have struggles I could never even imagine when I was in school. Some come to us hungry. Some are tired because they help parent their younger siblings. Sometimes they can’t even get to school because there was a bad storm and the roads are impassable. Sometimes everything they deal with at home causes them to act out at school. Yet the teachers at Sonlight provide consistency, love, and light in the darkness. They get up every morning, often before the sun has risen in the sky, and go to work, committed to loving the students who walk into their classroom. Even when the kids misbehave. Even when they have to tell the students for what literally might be the hundredth time to be quiet in the hallway. Even when they are dealing with issues in their own life. And the caring doesn't stop when the bell rings - real teachers care about what happens to those kids once they leave the school. On any given week, you'll find Sonlight staff tutoring kids after school, or visiting the homes of their students, making it clear to that child and their families that they matter. That they are important. That they are loved.


THAT is what makes a "real teacher". I can tell you with absolute certainty that each and every missionary serving at Sonlight is completely, 100 percent real - and I am so honored to serve beside them!