Michael Barbaro, a seventh and eighth grade teacher at Berwick Academy, participated in an OTA training at his school in August. When asked, “Who was there for you?” Michael pulled up a photo on his phone and showed a letter that Mrs. A, his homeroom teacher, had placed on the corner of his desk when he was a seventh-grade student at Rupert A. Nock Middle School. It was an invitation to join her for lunch.
Michael reflected that seventh grade was a particularly tough time for him. He was struggling, suffering inside, and doing his best to hold it together. He shared a photo taken around the time he received the letter and reflected on his body language in the photo. His arms are crossed, as if he is physically holding in the heavy emotions while protecting himself from the wild, uncertain, unpredictable halls of middle school. He remembers feeling “visibly invisible” during this difficult time in his life.
Michael shared, “Mrs. A saw me. She was intuitive and knew how to help. She was available. She wasn’t pushy, but available. She was passionate about what she did and had a great sense of humor. I felt safe with her.”
Michael ate lunch with Mrs. A that day, the first of many lunches, conversations, and check-ins over the course of several years. She had a profound impact on Michael’s life and his decision to become a teacher. He credits her as the reason he shows up as a trusted adult for the students in his care.
Michael has stayed in touch with Mrs. A over the years. He shared this photo of them taken together in 2016. Michael has made a point of expressing his gratitude to her for showing up for him when he needed it most!
It is for all of these reasons . . . and more . . . that we are spotlighting Mrs. A this month! Thank you, Mrs. A, for showing up as a trusted adult for the students in your care. Your profound impact continues to ripple through schools around the world.
In honor of Mrs. A and Michael, OTA is challenging you to share your gratitude: Who are you thankful for? Download this fun gratitude worksheet puzzle to spark important conversations about gratitude with your children and students. Turn the worksheet into a family or class competition, or work on it together as a team. Most importantly, take time to reflect and reach out to those people who showed up for you when you needed it most!