Janie Slaven: THE PREACHER'S DAUGHTER: The Gift of Time

May 1—There's always one. That kid who is full of questions, always has something to share — you know the one. As a teacher I've encountered all sorts of personalities over the years. I'm better for it, despite how much my patience is tested.

I had just sent my students out into independent work time on Friday. Per my schedule and classroom rules I have signals set in place in lieu of any questions that my students may have. They pop in and out on occasion, at random times, they ask random things.

As class dwindled down toward the lunch hour, a familiar student emerged. The student always willing to share, comment, and show me something new.

I watched as she held up two colored sheets of paper. "Which do you like?"

I paused for a brief moment, and commented on how much I loved Lisa Frank as a kid. The purple leopard held up toward the camera was my choice.

"Mrs. Williams, I hope my family likes it! Thank you for picking one out."

I waved goodbye and just as I got up from my seat, I thought about how precious the gift of time is. My students, all of them, all they ever want is my time. I take it for granted so often.

In the quiet of my kitchen that afternoon I heard God speak loudly. I need to slow down. I need to value the smallest request. I need to be thankful for time, even when I feel it inconveniences me. I made a point today to ask that student about her "coloring sheet" gift. From what I understand it was well received.

The time put into that art work meant something, and the time I took to look at it meant something too. The connection outweighs the content for me, and it always will.

To my struggling teacher friends out there, my colleagues, just breathe. Give them your attention. Give them your time. Give them a piece of your heart.

How precious our time with each of them is, even when we fail to realize it.

Erinn Williams is originally from Williamsburg, and now resides in Owensboro, Ky. The daughter of a teacher and a preacher, she hopes to make a difference through her words. She serves as an elementary educator in Daviess County, and writes for Owensboro Parent magazine in Western Kentucky. She can be contacted at erinn.williams2017@gmail.com.