One of my 10 year old son’s heroes isn’t a famous sports figure, religious leader, or even a family member; it is his 4th grade teacher Mr. Jeremy Ralphs. Mr. Ralphs is Canyon Elementary’s best kept secret. He is a quiet, unassuming, humble, young teacher, yet he exudes love for his students in a way I have never before seen. More often than not, you will see Mr. Ralphs at the cafeteria with his lunch box eating alongside his students. During recess he is right there laughing and playing soccer with them. They esteem him so highly that they will work hard to excel in all they do in his class.
Each year Mr. Ralphs chooses a special class song that fits the personality of his students and will resonate with them motivating them to be better students and friends. Two years ago, it was “The Eye of the Tiger” and last year, for my son’s class it was “I Believe I Can Fly”. He will then find time in his demanding schedule to teach this song to the class and then the students will choreograph a routine and practice it throughout the year. All this is done in “top secret” so that even the student’s parents don’t know what is going on. However, last year after tucking my son into bed, I would frequently hear him turn on his CD and practice singing, “I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky…” Then at the end of the year, at a school wide talent show, they perform their song which is the most anticipated act of the program.
Along with a fellow 5th grade teacher, Mr. Ralph encouraged his students to read Percy Jackson the Lightening Thief one month before the movie premiered. Their goal was to teach the students the value of reading and that books have so much more substance than movies. If the students finished the book in a months time, then they would go to a special showing of The Lightening Thief at the local theater. This created so much excitement that double the amount anticipated met the challenge. My son was so proud of his accomplishment and the fact he made the front page of the local newspaper. The students now know firsthand that most of the time, books are better than the movie.
Mr. Ralphs created a special 4th grade on line blog that he posts pictures of class activities, assignments, and other class news that make parent teacher communication superb. He students love to show their parents the blog and what is going on in his class. On the last day of school, many 4th grade boys as well as girls were in tears because they were graduating from Mr. Ralph’s class. They sincerely love their hero Mr. Ralphs and will always “believe they can fly – or do anything else they set their mind to because Mr. Ralphs taught them. Thank you Mr. Ralphs for being my son’s hero.