As I write this, the news is reporting on yet another public school teacher found guilty of betraying his students trust and sexually abusing them.
When reports first started surfacing about these horrendous adults, it saddened me. But now that more news of teachers continuously and repeatedly molesting and abusing our children are being brought to light, I’m angry.
I have two beautiful nieces in elementary school and if any teacher ever were to manipulate or touch them inappropriately, I don’t know what I’d do.
Once a week, I also volunteer as a creative writing mentor at a girls juvenile detention camp. My intentions are not only pure, but they are also tested regularly by the girls – many of whom hail from troubled and abusive backgrounds.
Often needy, these girls crave attention. And sadly, our children, crammed into overcrowded classrooms and being raised in hardworking single or two parent households, often suffer from the same vulnerable affliction.
Years ago, I was one of those kids. Parents divorced (it was nasty) and mother (unbeknownst to me) fighting for her life from cancer, I was a depressed, quiet mess. No one to talk to about what I was feeling – I was the big sister. God knows I wasn’t supposed to cry – I turned to my religion teacher, Mr. Rybicki.
He listened to me. Allowed me to question God without judgement. And was the first person to not only tell me I could and should continue to write, but he gave me my first opportunity to break out of my shell and produce my first skit for school.
Thank God, Mr. Rybicki was a good man. A Godly man. A teacher deserving of trust.
He was also funny. Every day, just to make sure I smiled, he would jump up in the air and say “It’s Toyota time!” Corny, yes. But it did make me laugh, because one of Mr. Rybicki’s legs was slightly shorter than the other, and to see him leap in the air like Michael Jordan…it was a sight to see.
I learned, after the fact, that Mr. Rybicki passed away some years ago. And today, as I watch more of these horrible stories unfold in the news, I cling to the memory of him.
There are still plenty of Mr. Rybickis teaching our children in our classrooms. We just need to celebrate and support them. And no longer can we turn a blind eye to these monsters preying on our children.
Fam, good teachers are the true, forgotten angels of our society. Mr. Rybicki was one of the best ones.
Who was the best teacher for you?