To the editor,
My mother retired from teaching this month. You might know her: Terry Van Buren? The crazy lady who walks to school in feet of snow or driving rain. You may have seen her some mornings, bundled up in sub-zero temperaturess, trudging her way across the city of Fulton’s beautiful bridges. She was heading to Granby Elementary where she spent over two decades of her life teaching Kindergarten and second grade. She is small, tough as nails, yet as kind as they come. Exactly the kind of person that hundreds of young Fultonians needed as they entered the Fulton City School District.
Some of my first memories are clutching the leg of my mom as she would head out the door to night school. I was fortunate enough to witness my mom persevere in those early days working towards her dream of becoming a teacher. The path wasn’t an easy one for a working mother with three small children. During those days, my mom was raising my siblings and me, working at the old diner in Woolworth’s and going to school. Money was always very tight while both of my parents worked hard to better their lives and the futures of their children.
By the time I was in sixth grade having my mom as a substitute teacher was not that rare an occasion. Imagine that for a moment: walking into your sixth-grade classroom to find your mom as the substitute. The funny part is, she was one of my favorites! She was engaged, passionate, caring, kind, empathetic and my classmates loved her as much as I did. Thinking back on it now, how blessed was I to have my mom be a part of my story and how special was it to grow up watching her work so hard toward achieving her goals.
She continued to substitute teach for many years while my father worked extremely hard to better his own professional place in the world. It was a struggle. Money was not something substitute teachers are rolling in, but our home was always full of love and happiness.
By the time I was reaching good ol’ G. Ray Bodley High School, my mom got a long term sub job at Granby Elementary School. It was like a dream come true. She had her own classroom and for a moment could imagine herself as the real deal. Her dream so close she could almost touch it. By the summer, the full-time teaching position at Granby was hers. A kindergarten teacher with her whole career ahead of her. Mission accomplished. Or so you would think.
My mother lived for her students. Each one was unique, special and had a unique connection with her. Year after year she poured her heart and soul into her classroom. She gave her students 100 percent of her attention and effort so that each of them, if only for a moment, was loved and listened to. Regardless of what her students had going on at home, in her classroom they were unconditionally loved. That’s my mom. She is to many, and me, simply incredible.
She overcame tremendous obstacles, expectations and odds to become who she wanted to be. Graduating from college with a bachelor’s and master’s degree was never an expectation or part of the plan. She made her own plan and did she succeed.
Now, if you happen to see this crazy little lady walking the bridges, you know who she is. She is one of the few Fultonians who have left a tremendous impact on our community without any expectation of praise, thanks or recognition. She deserves our praise and I hope she knows how incredibly proud her family is of her and how many lives she has touched. I love you mom, congrats on an incredible career! Now, time for the next adventure.
Eddie Van Buren