Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Too often we don’t fully appreciate the people in our lives that shape who and what we become. We are too busy or too occupied with the daily grind, and sometimes we miss the stuff that really matters. All of us have had teachers who in the moment were too tough, too demanding, or maybe too soft. The good ones are best evaluated in a rearview mirror. They are hard to recognize in the present.
Teachers are dangerous people. At least the good ones are. They start fires in the dry and tender imaginations of young people. Then they stand back, pour on the coals, and watch it burn, sometimes from a distance. On rare occasions you meet one of these educators. If you’re really lucky, you have one for a teacher. In either case, you are never the same.
I met one. Her name was Lorraine Jasso. She was a great teacher, a real pyromaniac around children. Whether it was conjugating Spanish verbs or telling her class about what happened the night before, she lit up the room. The heat and light produced from deep in her own blazing soul gave off enough energy to spark the imagination of children and even crusty old professors watching her work.