M. Colleen Cruz

Writer, Educator, Consultant

Day One- Teacher Appreciation Stories

May 4, 2015

Tags: Reading Castle, Team Book, Substitute, Mrs. Haiduck, Third Grade

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m going to take a break from problem tackling and venture into the world of gratitude. I wanted to share some memories and stories of favorite, unflappable, inspirational, and of course, unstoppable teachers.

The first teacher that comes to mind was my own third grade teacher, Mrs. Haiduck. She was a midyear replacement for my beloved original third grade teacher, Mrs. Alva, who went on maternity leave. I could write a whole other post about Mrs. Alva, but today is about Mrs. Haiduck, a substitute teacher who put her all into taking over a classroom heartbroken over losing their teacher.

Mrs. Haiduck was the kind of teacher who had a massive treat jar in her classroom for the ‘Superkid of the Week’, who put on a school play and encouraged us to dress up as our favorite book characters for celebrations. She seemed to sincerely love us and love teaching and learning.

But the thing I remember most about her is how she turned me, already a pretty big lover of books, into a voracious lifelong-never-going-to-quit, permanent member of Team Book. She did this by reading aloud every day after lunch for what seemed like hours –books that I still smile thinking about to this day – The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Chocolate Fever, How to Eat Fried Worms. But, if that wasn’t enough, she also built a reading castle in our classroom.

That’s right, a giant painted plywood Reading Castle, with a drawbridge and turrets and snuggly beanbag chairs and overstuffed pillows designed for reading tucked inside. In order to get to the reading spots, you would have to cross the drawbridge, hearing your school shoes clip-clop over the wood. Each of us lucky third graders would get to rotate during independent reading time to read in the castle. There was no more magical place in the universe to read. And, when the time to finish reading was over, you exited the castle, bleary-eyed and somehow different than you were before you entered.

That magic that Mrs. Haiduck, a mid-year sub brought into my classroom and into my life not only solidified my identity as a reader, but also my knowledge of what a teacher, any teacher, could do to change the lives of students.

Thank you Mrs. Haiduck!

If you have a story of teacher appreciation you’d like to share, please respond to this blog and I will post them all this week.

Selected Works

A book that addresses some of the most common and challenging struggles a teacher of writing might face - and offers solutions
Professional Literature
A practical resource for 3rd grade teachers looking to teach writing workshop
A practical resource for 4th grade teachers looking to teach writing workshop.
A practical book and quick read from Heinemann's Help Desk Imprint
Co-written with Lucy Calkins, this book is a part of the Units of Study First Hand Series from Heinemann.
Designed for teachers, this book discusses the ins and outs of teaching students to cultivate independent writing lives.
Young Adult Novel
A finalist for the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, this book follows the story of Cesi as she embarks on a journey to Mexico in order to learn more about her family, and herself.