Tom Bloch: In my very first class in 1995, I had a student who I had again the following year, so I had her both seventh and eighth grade, and didn’t hear from her again until about 10 years later. I got an e-mail from her, her name was Tina, and Tina in her e-mail invited me to her college graduation, and told me that she had decided to follow in my footsteps. And now, Tina today is an inner city math teacher in the middle school in Kansas City. And so that, to me, is a teacher’s greatest reward.
One other story I would tell you. This is also my first year as a teacher, and it was the last day of school and it was the last hour of the day, so as you can imagine, all eyes were on the clock, waiting for 3:00, so that they would be free for the summer. And I had a girl who raised her hand, right before the bell rang, and she said, “Mr. Bloch, can I come to the front of the room?” And I said, “Yes,” not knowing what she was about to do or say, and she turned and looked at her classmates and she explained how she always hated math, it was her worst subject, and she said, “And then Mr. Bloch came to our school,” and she said, “now, I cannot only get by in math but I really like it.” And she reached into her pocket and she pulled out a little… oh, a 3-inch little ceramic apple that said ‘Greatest Teacher’ on it.
Now, I’m sure I’m not the first one to receive a little $0.75 trinket like that, but I went home that night, being the last day of school, and I told my wife that I got my bonus for the year, and she looked at me as if I were crazy. Now, she was accustomed to me coming home at the end of the tax season with my bonus check at H&R Block, and I explained to her that this little apple meant more to me than those checks I got at H&R Block, some of which had several zeroes on it before the decimal point, and so this is really a teacher’s greatest reward.
Recorded on: October 13, 2008