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THAT Kind of Teacher

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On September 5, 2013, major U.S. news networks presented a heartwarming story of seven puppies and their mother, Sheba, who were re-united in the state of New York, with the soldiers who had befriended them in Afghanistan. The men's unit was being shut down and they were fearful of what would happen to Sheba and her pups when they returned home. The men had nursed Sheba back to health after the birth of the puppies, using their MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and beef jerky. Sheba had remained a very loyal, protective partner for the men.

According to the reports, Staff Sargeant Edwin Caba of Long Beach, Long Island, New York, swung into action and contacted one of his former high school teachers. She put him in touch with a Long Island group called the Guardians of Rescue, which has for several years collected donations to bring dogs back from combat zones. They had rescued about twenty dogs when the request came in to help Sheba and her pups. The cost of rescuing each dog from a war zone is about $4,000. The money is needed to pay for transportation and other logistics, including health care for the dogs, who are quarantined for 30 days and given all vaccinations before being sent to the U.S.

Caba, who completed his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, lost his home to Superstorm Sandy. He said the dogs helped to divert his attention from his troubles at home. "It's nice to have something to pass the time, to get rid of the stress," he said. "We just built a bond you can't even describe."

As a dog lover, I too stood in awe of the bond and watched the coverage with great joy. As an educator, I was also struck by another kind of bond. It struck me that when Staff Sergeant Caba needed help and needed help quickly, he didn't call the government, he didn't call any one of a number of organizations or social service agencies; he called his high school teacher. And she delivered.

Four years of high school is a short slice of a human's lifespan, but powerful bonds can be forged there - bonds powerful enough for a student to believe, even years hence, that a former teacher will always, always come through. As you contemplate entering this great profession, may you each strive to be that kind of teacher.


Janet L. Hood-Hanchey, Ph.D.

Director, Secondary Staffing

Lewisville (TX) ISD Human Resource Services

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