This was an essay I wrote for a contest about a year ago. The prompt was essentially this: Write about a hero in your life and describe why they are a hero. I chose to write about Patti Sandler, the teacher that made me want to change the world. I remembered several stories that she told about when she taught at an inner city school, and this essay is based on one of those stories.
In a dimly lit classroom in a Central Minnesota inner city school, a table stands against the wall with juicy oranges and bright yellow bananas. The kids dive for food, having had nothing to eat all day. The teacher, clad in a pink jacket and white pants, begins her lesson.
A new kid walks in. She examines his piercing glare, his hands in his pocket, realizing that he is someone whom every teacher despises. In his eyes she reads his history:
“He’ll go to jail.”
“He’s not worth our time.”
Reflecting on such comments that she knows he has heard for most of his life, she grabs her bag and says to him:
“I must go to the office. Hold my purse.”
He is speechless, frozen in his shock.
He guards that purse with his life.
That was Patti Sandler in 1968. Her retirement will never be reached.
Heroes like her devote themselves to shaping the future. If a teacher inspires a child, the world suddenly improves in an incomparable way.
Before Ms. Sandler taught me, I was unaware of a world outside Scottsdale. She opened my eyes, educating me about current events, and speaking passionately about the less fortunate. She planned trips to the Montessori Model United Nations conferences, helping us write papers about global issues so we could create resolutions with kids from different cultures.
She taught me to care about the world.
“Treat kids like they’re smart and worthwhile, no matter who they are.” She lives by those words. She believes in every student and pushes them to their absolute best. For me and so many others, the future is bright because of Patti Sandler.