My Sixth Grade Teacher and Bruce Springsteen
Posted on 08 September 2016
One of the most important parts of growing up is being lucky enough to have a teacher that makes an impact on your life. Hopefully we all were lucky enough to have a teacher that we will always remember and that changed our lives in a positive way. I hope that my child and yours has many of them and that their school years are filled with caring and innovative educators that break the mold and teach our youth that learning and life can be fun and invigorating.
In 6th grade I was lucky enough to get placed in Mr. Rafter's class. It was a tough time for me because two of my best friends had been "taken" away from me. If you know our story Sabrina and I had been in the same class and best friends since 1st grade, but in the middle of our 5th grade year her family moved to New Hyde Park, Long Island, which might as well had been Alaska because I felt like I would never see her again. It felt like life changed forever. Then when we all advanced to 6th grade it got worse, our other best friend Adriana was placed in a different class (again someone we had been together with since first grade)
For the first time I was in a class without my two closest friends. I knew some of the other kids, I just wasn't as close to them as I was with Sabrina and Adriana and both had been taken from me at probably one of the hardest times in a girls life. Twelve is a funny age, not yet a teen, but not a kid anymore. For some of us, our bodies are beginning to change, for others not so much, it's an awkward stage to say the least. It was probably the first time I had ever experienced any bullying. Friends were changing constantly, I remember there was one girl who was the "leader" and she changed best friends as often as every two weeks. Needless to say, Mr. Rafter was literally dealing with these 'girl issues' on a weekly basis. Girls being mean to each other, writing nasty notes and every week he would take a few girls outside and talk to them.
I was one of those girls involved in some friendship triangle that one day and was taken outside of the classroom to have a talk with. I remember thinking, I can't believe he stopped the lesson to come outside and talk to us about our problems, which at the time seemed like the the most important thing in the world. I remember him saying that these issues we were fighting about although they seemed like a big deal now, wouldn't be in the future and that it was important for us to be kind to each other and get along. This resonated with me. I never wanted to be the one that was making someone feel like I was feeling at that time in my life. I remember thinking he was the only teacher to actually take time out of our daily lessons and deal with all the girl drama. All the other teachers in the past would just give a punishment assignment and not address the issue, but he was different, he cared.
We all knew how much he cared about his students and we all loved him! His "Word Power Made Easy" Fridays to his LOVE for Bruce Springsteen, made him different than any other teacher I had ever had. I think his love for Springsteen is probably what made us all love Bruce as well. He was so passionate about him and he was just 'so cool' for a teacher, like really cool!
When his birthday came around we asked another teacher to take him out to lunch while we decided to skip our own lunch and decorate our classroom to surprise him with a party. We all chipped in to buy him the "Born in the USA" album and to have pizza delivered to our class. The look on his face when he came in was priceless. We had the record player ready to play and as soon as he came in he jumped on his desk and played the air guitar to "The Boss". He really was blown away and couldn't believe how we pulled this off. He really felt the love from us that day. For us it was a way to give back to our teacher who was constantly giving and taught us so much more than what was expected to learn in a classroom.
A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to be at Springsteen's 'The River Tour', where he broke the record with the longest concert on US soil. He played for 4 hours and 1 minute (he holds the world record for 4 hours and 6 minutes as well). If you've ever been to a Springsteen concert, you know that you are witnessing a living Legend! He truly is amazing to watch and everyone knows every single word to every single song. When I was there, I wondered for a moment if maybe Mr. Rafter was there and if I would even recognize him if I ran into him. I hope that he was and that he did get to witness "The Boss" break a record that day.
I hope that my daughter is lucky enough to have a teacher like Mr. Rafter one day and I selfishly hope that Bruce continues to tour and that one day my little girl will be pulled up on stage to sing with him. She already knows the words...
"It's rainin' but there ain't a cloud in the sky
Musta been a tear from your eye
Everything'll be okay
Funny thought I felt a sweet summer breeze
Musta been you sighin' so deep
Don't worry we're gonna find a way
I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
I'm waiting' on a sunny day"...'Waitin' on a Sunny Day, Bruce Springsteen
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