The Teacher
By Tim Bete

Thirty years ago she began teaching

young children in their threes and fours;

she didn't know much about children at first,

but over time learned more and more.
She gave them hugs and wiped their tears,

and never left them alone;

she guided them through the small things,

which often turned out to be milestones.
Her first students are all grown now,

and she waves to them when they pass;

there's a banker, a writer, a lawyer, an artist,

and parents with children in her class.
To those who ask if she plays all day,

she says with a gleam in her eye

that she teaches bankers to add and subtract,

and artists the color of the sky.
She teaches the alphabet to writers,

and lawyers what it means to be fair;

she teaches politicians to take their turn,

and executives how to share.

She knows that what's learned in the sandbox

will influence them for years to come;

it's the little things that shape them,

so impressionable are the young.
If you too work with children,

and dance and sing and play,

don't forget that you shape the future

by whom you teach today.

Tim Bete is a former editor of Earlychildhood NEWS magazine.