The other Mrs. Hanke.

We were on a field trip on our way to the town’s nature center which passes by a high school in town that I attended not so many years ago.  I pointed it out to the kids and told them that the “other Mrs. Hanke” is teaching just in there, right now, as we are speaking.  One of my kid’s asked if we could take a field trip to visit the other Mrs. Hanke.

I should have clarified and said “the first Mrs. Hanke, who so kindly lets me share her name.”

We went to help celebrate mama Hanke’s career in teaching last night.  I can’t say enough great things about both of Josh’s parents.  People complain about their in-laws and I can’t imagine how difficult it makes life when you have those issues with in-laws.  It was an honor to help say thanks for Diana’s year of serving students.  Although the subjects we teach couldn’t be more different (and I couldn’t be worse at art…which is her forte) I look forward to talking shop with her each week as we join them for dinner.  We swap stories and spend a lot of time laughing at how teaching elementary and high school aren’t as different as you might think.  Diana is also a great (and willing) sounding board when I am having trouble or frustrations at school and she always has a new way of looking at a situation and helping to remind me that it is the relationship with the kids that matter most and that ALL teachers have those hard days.

I wrote awhile ago about how I have about 75 students that have been in my class.  Diana sees more than that each day and they change each semester.  She has touched so many kids lives that I can’t even imagine where her influence ends (I’m sure it reaches farther than even she could ever conceive).  Diana has created the ceramics program at the high school where she teaches.  So much so that when the kids found out she was retiring they thought there would no longer be ceramics offered.

I could go on for days about what a great person Diana is in general (and I believe this also helps her be a phenomenal teacher) but today I just wanted to tip my hat, as a fellow educator and big time admirer of her work, and say thanks for all you’ve done.  It just won’t seem right next year without you in the district, it’ll be just a little lonelier.  On the other hand, on behalf of many (I am sure), take the time and enjoy retirement, you’ve certainly earned it.  I hope that after 30+ years of teaching I am able to look back on my career and be as proud of my dedication as she should be of hers.

Diana has said this to me many times about educators, and I couldn’t agree more (I am paraphrasing here Diana, so I hope I do it justice).  If you are an educator and it is August and you aren’t excited about starting a new school year, it’s time to find another job.  I know every August Diana was eager to return to her classroom and students and I know this August will be challenging for her.

Diana has created a hard act to follow in this district, and *hopefully* (even though I truly am the “other Mrs. Hanke,” the “second Mrs. Hanke”) it will be my honor to live up to the challenge!

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