School was never a breeze.
My grades just didn't reflect the dedication, effort or the willingness to be the student I knew I could be.
Yet, I always wanted a grade "A" test paper to hang on the refrigerator.
I entered fifth grade at PS 33 in Queens Village with a new teacher, a red-headed, tall, beautiful young woman by the name of Mrs. [Randi] Battino. Her presentation was kind, welcoming and professional. I volunteered to help Mrs. Battino during lunch break. We spoke about my grades and she offered encouraging words, helpful study hints and acknowledged that I was trying my best. Her comforting words, availability and genuine concern made me want to really show how great I could be.
At the end of each month a certificate for the "Student of The Month" was awarded to an exceptional student. I had never received one, nor did I ever expect I would. One day Mrs. Battino announced my name as "Student of the Month." Mrs. Battino said it represented my efforts and hard work. I could not stop smiling and couldn't wait to hang it on the refrigerator. She continued to work with me throughout the school year during her free time. It meant the world to me. Every so often she wrote how well I had been doing on a piece of paper. "Student of The Month" was the cake and Mrs. Battino's acknowledgement and heart was the icing that made my drive even sweeter.
After earning my master's degree in social work, I enrolled my son at PS 33. I was shocked to learn he was assigned to Mrs. Battino's kindergarten class. How unreal, I thought. Mrs. Battino and I spoke after orientation and, to my surprise, she remembered me. My son was in the best hands.
I kept all the certificates and written acknowledgements Mrs. Battino had given me. They meant the world to me then and they mean the world to me now. One day after school I brought the certificates to show her and I could tell by the smile on her face that it filled her heart.
Our personal goals originate in early childhood and, if reinforced, they can go a long way. As a teacher, role model, advocate and active caregiver to our students and parents, Mrs. Battino bears an honest love for her position. I wish her the very best in every aspect of life just as she had bestowed to me. My son and I are both very lucky to have her. The chapter continues as my son will now have his story to tell about her. Three stories, two generations, only one Mrs. Battino.
Special thanks to Kings Park Classroom TA member Amy Kiernan for informing me of this wonderful way to show my appreciation. Last but not least, thanks to NYSUT United Editor-in-Chief Mary Fran Gleason for her time and consideration in listening to my story.
Natasha Pollard, New York City