Skip to main content

Teacher of the Century


    My second writing wave were ages eleven to thirteen. It was at a time in my life that I so wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “STOOOPPPPPPP!” It was aimed at the cruelty of the world. Or rather I should say the dismissiveness of the lesser, the poor, the helpless. Yes, that was and is me. I’m still that same being. So the other night as I prayed for people, for my family, for self, for our household. These thoughts arose over and over again, in between my prayers and meditations. At those ages I referred to, I was in my middle school years. I kept diaries those years somewhat regularly.

    One of those years, I was tremendously blessed with this language arts teacher, Ms. Beltrami. She was frail, and kind. She appeared sickly. But inside all of that, I saw reserve and gentleness in her. I only wanted her to be happy. I saw inside her soul. Sometimes, people let me do that.  And other times I’m gifted that view from another source. Even if I don’t want to see what is inside the other being that stands before me. I feel pain whether it is mine or someone else’s, I may still feel it. Many times, I feel other’s pain is much harsher. Harsher to them, because they don’t understand it. Yet me the outsider just might.

    So, this one year with Ms. Beltrami I wrote like a mad-woman for her. I struggled in reading. I struggled in comprehension of grammar.  Yet, I could write. I cannot for the life of me remember how many pieces I wrote for her. I got A’s and B’s, even when I failed tests and quizzes. She encouraged me to write. I remember those eyes looking down at me from her pale complexion, accepting what only I had to offer her. What I offered her, was understanding of all the cruelties humanity had to offer. That’s what I wrote about. It was pure heart and soul writing.
   One day my mother saw the writings I was doing.  As well, Mom had snuck into my one drawer that I kept my diaries in and read some. My Mom had this concerned look on her face.

“Jody, what you write is horrible. I mean, you really feel that way?”  She asked.  I didn’t know how to reply. I was age twelve at the time. So, instead I apologized for freaking Mom out. “What does it do for you?” She asked.
“The diary writing. I need to talk to someone. But yet, God doesn’t always respond the way a human does. Yet, He understands me. So, once I write it, I feel better.” I replied.
Mom seemed a bit astonished, I gather. 
“What about the writings that you do for Language Arts? Do you share them?” She'd asked.
“Yes, Ms. Beltrami loves them. They make her happy.” I said.
“But they seem so sad.” She remarked.
“Well, it’s about life. You know feelings. It’s good, if it makes her happy. I’m getting good grades. She tells me so.” I commented.
“So, your writing like that, you think makes her happy. So, that’s why you get good grades from her?” She asked.
“My sadness makes her happy.  Because she needs to know I understand her
feelings. And it’s okay. The world’s a tough place for her, Mom.” I replied.
    My three years in that new school system, were some of the toughest years of my life. I was bullied nearly all the time, inside and out of school. I had no friends, accept my dog and God. That was it. Ms. Beltrami, a teacher although not a friend.  She was someone who benefitted from my honesty and my view of the pains in life. I saw this, and I wondered how others couldn’t.
    One day around the beginning of the third marking period of seventh grade Ms. Beltrami was no longer there.  Another woman became my language arts teacher. She confronted me, “I will not accept your writing as your grade.” She commented.  
    If I knew then how to curse back at her, I think I would have called her an SOB. To this day, I see her as an uncompromising bitch. Not because of how she was going to grade me. It was how she had delivered the message. As well she not asking me to stay after school, in order to speak with me privately, I would NOT have haggled. Because I had too much respect for teachers and those in authority to even think of haggling. She assumed. And with that, I resented. 
    Imagine having a child who is disciplined. Who otherwise could make your life a living hell in class.  I had nothing to lose. No one cared. Yet, I knew better than she did. I bit my tongue, acted stupid and did whatever. I could not be embarrassed, because I’d already been pushed too far.
    To this day, I think about Ms. Beltrami and what made her disappear. It could’ve been death, depression, long term illness. It wasn’t the first time I had a favorite teacher leave my presence. Yet, it was the first time one left and was never heard from again. Just like any child, I had my favorite people. Ms. Beltrami was one of them. My Mom was astonished that I let Ms. Beltrami take thirty of my writings home with her. Only she was never to return. My mom was upset for me about that. Yet, I explained to Mom, “It’s not about me. She needs those writings. It’s my gift to her. So, it’s okay.”         
    Yet, the gift I received was giving someone understanding. To me giving understanding to someone is the most precious gift we can give one another as human beings. It is what makes the world go round.---Jody-Lynn Reicher


Popular posts from this blog

2023 Holiday Letter from the Reicher's

Well, I didn't think I'd be doing a Holiday Letter this year, but here goes... The Spirit of Norm is in the air. As the wind whips with minus a true snowstorm.  In hopes the Farmers Almanac was correct, I pray to the snow gods. Rain ensued the month of December thus far. We have nearly tripled the amount of rainfall usual for December in New Jersey. And I've witnessed its treachery. Storms such as these hit us hardest in July. Then remained fairly intense through til about early October.  Our daughters are doing well, Thank God.  Their Dad would be proud of them. Our oldest Sarah, now a Junior at UCLA pursuing her degree in Chemical Engineering. She's digging the whole California scene. Which I thought it was for her. She's had some good traveling on her off times from school. For her March 2023 week off, she drove her and a few friends out to Lake Tahoe and went downhill skiing for a first in nearly 5 years. She had to rent the ski equipment.  Funny enough when

Sledging the Hammer

  "You could have a steam trainIf you'd just lay down your tracks..."---Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer' lyrics. This is not the tune that lay in my mind this morning as I reminisced about yesterday's volunteers to help on trail crew.    However, as I looked up the proper definition of sledging that song popped up. I say sledging, which is my own take on swinging a hammer that we call a "Double Jack". The Single Jack is six pounds. I know that because our regular crew of five including me and one staff supervisor are handling Harriman State Park Trails, and have to carry about four of those, two shaping hammers, along with a hoist, belay bag with heavy equipment, first aid kit, double Jack, three 18lb rock bars, a lopper, three buckets, three eye to eyes, two burlap straps, two green wrapping straps, two pick Mattox, a roe hoe or two, a bar for either the two ton or one ton hoist, the feathers with pegs for splitting rocks that we drill... s

It Follows Me...

One may wonder what would inspire someone to work hard labor voluntarily. For me it’s the love of many things. It’s the passion that won’t be broken. Because there are so many aspects to such service for me, that it may seem beyond comprehension. I’d compare it to my youthful desire to enter the military as a young child. Then for a multitude of reasons only to follow through thirteen years later at age eighteen entering the Marines. There were things that followed me throughout my life. Sometimes they were questions of how I ever gave up my over decade’s life dream to become a New Jersey State Trooper. My childhood desire to never wed—to never have any serious relationships with another human being. I desired only service in military and law enforcement nearly my whole childhood. Too the extent that even one of my Marine Corps superiors expressed to me last July, “I never thought you’d ever get married. It just wasn’t who you were. You were always a loner.” I replied, “Yeah. I know.