So many teachers have inspired career choices and life choices for their students over the years. For me, it was Brother Jim at Gabriel Richard High School, who introduced me to the wonderful world of marketing. I am sure each of our readers can instantly say who that special teacher was. This past month, I have seen so many heartfelt posts on Facebook about so many special teachers here in Trenton and many other communities Downriver.
It seems we are particularly fortunate in Trenton to have so many teachers who care enough to go over and beyond today’s curriculum. Our family has had the fortune of crossing paths with many teachers, coaches and administration that go that extra mile.
One teacher who had both of my boys in sixth grade has been incorporating a program into her curriculum for 40 years. I am sure you may know about syllabus papers that parents must sign with every new semester, but this educator assigned “parent homework!”
At first I sighed, “Great, one more thing to do,” but decided to do it, since it counted toward their grade. But this homework was a real wake-up call for me as she asked parents to actually describe their child. Things like: What type of student are they? How do they like school? What motivates them? What do they enjoy doing? What struggles are they dealing with? What aspirations do we have of them and what do they want out of life? It really made me as a parent reflect about the qualities my children might aspire to.
“It is interesting. Over the years I have learned how long a mother was in labor with my students, their favorite foods and some very private matters, I did not even ask for. But it really helps me to get to know my students.” Gail Vos said. “This is something I actually borrowed from Aaron Segedi.”
She then got another idea from retired teacher Helen Lipinski to take this concept a few steps further. Before students leave her class, they are asked to write a letter to themselves, a type of time capsule journal, that they will read when they are older.
“Helen had a system of file folders for every one of her students over a six-year period that she shared with me,” said Vos. “Every year I rotate the files and the graduating class members receives a letter from me, a little graduation gift and their letter from themselves. For the graduating class of 2000, I wrote and mailed a record 200 letters!”
The year my oldest son graduated from Trenton High School, he received the letter to himself and was really surprised and appreciated that Mrs. Vos even remembered him enough to save the letter. What a thoughtful and genuine gift for Trenton High School graduates who have had Mrs. Vos.
Before becoming an educator, Vos was a student at Eastern Michigan University. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Eastern and received a special education degree from Madonna University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Wayne State University. Vos has been married to her husband, Bruce, for 39 years. They have two sons, Justin and Bryan, both Trenton graduates. In her spare time she enjoys camping with her husband, being a grandmother to her four amazing grandchildren, reading, knitting, working on the computer and traveling.
Wouldn’t it be great if because of this article, Mrs. Vos and any other teachers received a few letters of how her thoughtfulness has affected a student’s career or life choices? Send to: Mrs. Gail Vos, Arthurs Middle School, 4000 Marian Dr., Trenton, MI 48183.
Kathy Kane is business manager and co-publisher of the Trenton Trib. Contact her at email@example.com or (734) 676-0850. Comments and story ideas also can be emailed to the Trib at firstname.lastname@example.org