Most teachers today hand you the books, teach you the books, test you on the books, pat you on the head, and send you on your merry way in life. Can I get an Amen? Sure, many of them try to make learning fun, interactive, and challenging. But after a year, it’s over. They’re on to the next room of rugrats. Goodbye How-Do-You-Pronounce-Your-Name-Again & Hello Chatty-Red-Shirt.
My question is, how many teachers work as partners throughout your life, guiding and supporting you as you take on the world? Honestly. You wouldn’t expect to be working, studying full time in college, battling family, and trying not to drown in loans and Starbucks cups to turn around and see your 3rd grade art teacher behind you with advice, love, and support. You don’t find a girl like that every dynasty.
So I really should be thanking “Misses Middlebrooks” for inspiring me since the day I toddled into her art room eleven years ago. Heather Middlebrooks has been a constant source of support for me over the years. She loved me when my “Starry Nights” were just big blue hand prints. Besides my primary colors, Heather taught me how to be independent, empowered, outspoken and confident, as well as how to be an inspiration in all that you do. I’ve learned in 13 years that the best teachers lead by example and some of the best lessons happen outside the classroom.
When I bumped into Heather for the first time after elementary school, she told me about how one year, the school just took her room away. What is an art teacher without a room? She was expected to teach from a cart, rolling from classroom to classroom with limited supplies, space, and time. As an artist herself, she realized that the best masterpieces make the biggest messes. A standard classroom isn’t appropriate for young artists to truly explore what art is and what it means. I found it so inspirational that she fought so hard for her students’ right to create art.
Another time she ran into each other, she had surprised me at my high school homecoming fundraiser. I had the best intentions for the “Chalk Walk” and the best intentions for the proceeds toward my team, however Heather was the only one to come. The only one. Even though it was a total bust, seeing Heather and knowing she was proud and supporting me still was the best gift I could have gotten. Today she’s a huge influence on my blog. She’s become a regular reader and often provided me realistic critiques and challenges my statements. With her support, I’ve grown tougher and brighter and possibly even sassier.
Also, I’ve learned that sometimes it is best to step outside your comfort zone. It’s funny, Heather is trying her hand in the bakery life, a whole new medium of art. She is still connected with many of her old students, serving as a role model and rock as every day we step towards our dreams. I’m also pleased to share that Heather and her wonderful husband George are expecting! Naomi Claire Middlebrooks will be here in the blink of an eye. I can only hope she’ll let me be a part of miss Naomi’s life just as she has been for me. Heather, Cheers to you!