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Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Mr. Daniels

A friend recently gave me a copy of Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Fish in a Tree. I devoured the middle-grade book in just two days, and I ended it wanting to be more like the main character's teacher, Mr. Daniels.

This book reminded me of why I wanted to be a teacher. Growing up, school was a safe place for me. I felt accepted, and I knew I knew that I had adults who cared about me and that showed an unwavering commitment to making sure I learned and, most importantly, felt safe. That is exactly who Mr. Daniels is.

Ally Nickerson, the main character, suffers from dyslexia. She knows she's different from everyone else, and a few of her peers make her painfully aware that they notice it too. But things change when Mr. Daniels becomes their teacher. He treats all students with respect, and he works to show every student that all types of learning are valued.

With less than a month before school starts, this is who I want to be. Remaining steadfastly positive is so difficult when we see 150 students with 150 different needs and 150 different backgrounds and circumstances. But at the end of the day, just like I've heard said before, students don't necessarily remember what we teach them. They remember how we make them feel.

We can make every student feel valued, even if they don't show up every day. We can make every student feel valued, even if they never come prepared. We can make every student feel valued, even if we feel overwhelmed with mandates, demands, and papers to grade. We very well might be the only people that make them feel valuable.

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