My Mother, The Great Teacher
my mother, Rosemary Castillo Timmons, was a teacher. If a person can be “born” into a vocation, my mother was delivered into this world to be a teacher.
A great teacher lets students know that they can depend not only on her but also on the entire class. A great teacher is warm, accessible, enthusiastic, and caring. Great teachers possess excellent listening skills and take time out of their way-too-busy schedules for anyone who needs them. My mother was a great teacher.
Every August, we would load up our car with new books, supplies, and lots of ideas to create an exciting environment for her incoming students. My mother looked forward to the first day of school more than most, certainly more than myself. We would scrub the desks, organize the shelves, and put up the bulletin boards.
so there was not much money for anything fancy, so most of what went into the classroom, she purchased herself or enlisted our family’s help to do the manual labor. I spent hours cutting out letters and making copies. She wanted her students to walk into her classroom on the first day and be thrilled to be there. And they were.
She taught several different grades but primarily settled into teaching 4th grade, stating that those are the students on the cusp of understanding how exciting learning can be. She wanted to be there to foster that journey. Years later, I would meet someone who had my mother as a teacher, and inevitably they would say, “Mrs. Timmons was the best teacher I ever had.”
My mother had a firm belief that reading was not only a valuable skill but an essential one. She believed it was a way to achieve your dreams. She often told me, “we live in a reading world, and to excel in this world, you must be able to read.”
so with two other children, a husband, and a full-time job, she started the Master’s Program at the University of New Mexico to achieve her dream of being a Reading specialist. She proudly walked the stage and received her diploma in 1979. She started to work with Albuquerque Public Schools as a Reading Specialist serving disadvantaged schools.
What I have not shared is that my mother had her own disability. As a child, she began to lose her hearing, and as the years went by, she became dependent on hearing aids. She never let that stop her and encouraged her students with learning difficulties to continue to work hard.
She treated each student as an individual, even though she had lots of students, and found just that special something that would turn a child who hated reading into a child who loved reading. She would bring comic books for the child who loved to draw, newspapers, and coupons for a child who loved to shop, car magazines for the child who loved cars… she said, “ It does not matter what they read, as long as they read.”
She made a difference in her students’ lives, and she didn’t see her students by their economic status, gender, or race. She just wanted them to love to learn, read, and to follow their dreams. Now that is my definition of a great teacher.
She would be tremendously proud of the Giving Petals scholarship program and their work to ensure that all students can succeed. The funds raised to help children and adults gain access to specialized testing and tutoring programs can make a huge difference in a person’s life. Enabling that ability was at the very core of my mother’s belief for anyone struggling with reading. She would be honored that her work continues through the Giving Petals Foundation.