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If She Only Knew – Story Honoring Mrs. Cafferky

By: Anna Tyspan

To one of the most influential teachers in my life: Mrs. Cafferky. This was a teacher who had a true heart for children, who had a passion to teach and to lead her students into the big, frightening world of the unknown.

I moved to the United States in 1996 from the country of Ukraine. Not yet knowing a bit of English, I was sent to school one month after we had just arrived in America. The school administration decided to place me into a kindergarten class taught by a Mrs. Cafferky. The morning of my “kindergarten orientation,” my mom, a translator, and I arrived at the big, exciting classroom entrance where we found a smiling teacher who warmly welcomed us inside.

While some volunteers led my mom and translator away to fill out some school paperwork, the smiling teacher led me to the front of the room where there was a table, some chairs, and a video camera all set up and ready to go. The video camera was set up for the sole purpose of recording every new kindergartener “first day of school” experience. The video was intended to serve as a great family ‘heirloom’ for the future.

As I sat down, I looked around the interesting classroom and tried to imagine myself coming to this wonderful playroom every single day. And then all of the sudden, I heard the soft click of the video camera.

I still have that video recording in my living room today. Whenever I watch it, my eyes just fill up with tears as I see the amazingly patient, caring, and smiling teacher on the screen. In the video is a little girl sitting at a small table with a kind-faced teacher sitting beside her. The teacher points at different colored shapes on the table and asks the child to repeat after her.

“Blue. Can you say blue? And this is red. Apples are red.”

The little girl just sits there quietly rubbing her eyes, not understanding a word that this lady is saying. But that does not bother her because the teacher’s calm character comforts her, so there no reason for her to be afraid. The child decides to just silently remain sitting there.

“Okay, let’s try naming some different shapes. This is a circle. Can you say circle? And this is a square. It has four sides. Square…”

And this is how the conversation continued throughout the rest of the video: the teacher doing all the talking and the student just sitting there. If only this teacher could see how far up this hopelessly shy child has gone today. If only she knew that this same silent child is soon to attend a university to study medicine.

If only she knew what kind of impact she had had in this little girl’s life. If only. But I doubt she will ever know; so instead, I decided that the only logical thing to do is write an essay in dedication to her inspiration in my life.