Patty Bowen was my son’s third grade teacher last year. She is dedicated to her students and spends hours after school tutoring those who need extra help. It is not uncommon for her to still be at the school at 6:00 in the evening. As a regular volunteer in her classroom last year, I was impressed by the way she motivated her students to achieve their potential while managing her class with a firm, yet loving touch. What particularly impressed me was the way she made each child that came into that classroom feel valued and special – even the siblings of her students. Due to complex heart and lung issues we have chosen to home school our six-year-old daughter. Mrs Bowen provided me with resources to use at home and helped guide me with timely suggestions. But, what really touched my heart was the way she embraced my daughter. Having grown up in the shadow of doctors and hospitals, our daughter trusts very few people. From the very first week of school, Mrs. Bowen took our daughter under her wing and loved her. She made a special effort to involve our daughter in class activities and parties and even listened with her class as our daughter was interviewed for Primary Children’s radiothon last February. After the interview, the class chose to make a donation to the hospital in our daughter’s name, and later, the students told Mrs. Bowen that participating in the radiothon was the most meaningful fundraiser they had participated in all year. Mrs. Bowen is the only person, outside of family, that our daughter will freely hug. She has played a huge part in our daughter’s healing journey of trust.
Mrs. Bowen’s influence, however, did not stop at the end of last school year. This past September, after many doctor’s visits, we learned our son has complex, chronic motor tic disorder, a condition that can leave a child feeling ostracized by his peers and misunderstood by his teachers. Each evening I felt my heart breaking as I listened to his pleadings, “Mom, will this ever go away? ” Although Mrs Bowen is not my son’s teacher this year, she learned of his struggles and has gone out of her way to help not only my son, but our entire family. After each doctor’s appointment, she has called to ask about the visit and how my son and family are doing. She even called during the Christmas break to check on us. Every single day she has made it a point to find my son at school to give him a hug and tell him how much she loves him. My son knows if he is having a rough day, he can turn to Mrs Bowen for safety and acceptance. As a mom, nothing is more meaningful to me than to know that someone is loving and watching out for my child when I can’t be there. Mrs. Bowen has not only fed my son’s mind, but more importantly, she has fed his soul.
This past year, we have learned that it is the little things that usually mean the most. A hug. A caring touch. A kind word. An encouraging smile. Because Mrs. Bowen understands this, she has provided our family with the greatest gift this holiday season – the gift of love and understanding. That is why we love her so much.