Here we go.
It was December of 1998. I had just graduated from Teacher's College and was very pleased to be getting lots of experience as a supply teacher. I was covering for a French teacher at Holy Family School and was to be there for 3 days.
Here's how a conversation went in the French office, shortly after I arrived.
Me: Hi, I'm Patti.
Other teacher: Hi I'm _____.
Me: I'm here for three days for Madame Soandso.
OT: Great. Let me know if you need any help.
OT: Did you just graduated from teacher's college?
ME: Yes, Queens.
OT: What area?
OT: You need to see Mrs. Cekota. She's the most incredible teacher I know. While you're here, make sure you stop in to visit with her.
I make a point to visit Mrs. Cekota and carry on with my day. I go to the Staff Room at lunch that first day and I see this woman, sitting at the table, cheerfully chatting with everyone. She's so warm, friendly and personable. I knew it was Mrs. Cekota. I was too shy to interrupt and introduce myself...so I listened, real close.
That was how many years ago? That's Mrs. Cekota, you see. You know her before you even meet her. Not only does her reputation as an outstanding educator precede her, but just by observing her interactions with others, you can quickly figure out that she is someone special.
Being around Mrs. Cekota fills you with the kind of warmth you get from watching a child open that much longed-for Christmas gift. You feel warm and fuzzy when you're with Mrs. Cekota.
Of course, I went to her room that day and saw the most wonderful learning environment one can imagine. It was a young student's paradise. Mrs. Cekota doesn't know I was in there...I snooped...for a while. I'm not sure where she was when I popped in but I got to have a real good look around. I made all kinds of mental notes about what my first classroom would look like!
Mrs. Cekota is retiring this month and our school won't be the same. She has made a difference in the lives of hundreds and hundreds of children and adults, and it's hard to find the words to express my gratitude for her kindness, guidance and example.
Mrs. Cekota is old school good. New teachers have all kinds of new skills to bring to our profession, but Mrs. Cekota started teaching in a different time. She couldn't rely on google for a lesson plan or pinterest for an art activity. She wrote the book on being a creative teacher. She really did.
You should also know that if you ever go to Tim Horton's and they tell you they've run out of gift cards, it's because of Mrs. Cekota. She is the most gracious and thoughtful person. Twice I purposely chose her name in the Staff Secret Santa as a way to pay her back for all the Horton's gift cards she's given me over the years.
This is what she does: you lend her a book, she buys you a gift card to thank you. You give her some pom-poms for a craft, she buys you a gift card to thank you. It's no secret...she does this for everyone. She's Mrs Cekota.
You know how they say you may not remember what people wore or what they said but you always remember how they made you feel? Mrs. Cekota makes me feel like a million bucks. She makes me feel like the best teacher on the planet.
She's Mrs. Cekota.
I'm going to miss her like crazy.