Some of us have been lucky enough to have teachers that have truly inspired us. I’ve had a few, but two really stand out. The first is Mrs. Harper, my 3rd grade teacher, who is still the standard by which I measure all great teachers. The other is Mrs. Galloway, my eighth grade reading teacher, who taught me just how magical diving into a great book could be. (Mrs. Galloway, now a valued friend and colleague, should probably get a lot of the credit for my becoming a librarian.) Teachers have the power to make a difference in the lives of children, and they often don’t realize just how much they mean to their students.
In my latest read, Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, we follow seven students through their fifth grade year. They’re all in Mr. Terupt’s class. Mr Terupt is a new teacher. Some students think he’ll be a pushover. Some students see this class as their chance to start fresh. But one thing is the same for all of them. This year–and this teacher–will change their lives forever.
Mr. Terupt is a brand-new teacher at Snow Hill School in Connecticut. His fifth grade class if full of students who are as interesting as they are different. Jessica has just moved from California after her mom’s split with her dad. Anna is a shy girl who is an outcast through no fault of her own. Danielle is a girl who lets what others say and think matter too much. Alexia is a mean girl who will create drama at the first opportunity. Peter is a class clown who never seems to get into trouble. Luke is the class brain and always has to have the right answer first. Jeffrey hates everything about school…and home.
Somehow, Mr. Terupt manages to reach all of these students in his own special way. For some of them, school is fun for the first time. Other students are breaking out of their shells. Some are realizing just how much their actions impact others. Mr. Terupt is making a difference in these kids’ lives…but no one realizes how much this special teacher really means to his students until something happens that threatens to take him away forever.
What will the class do without their teacher? Who is to blame for what happened to Mr. Terupt? Will the students from Mr. Terupt’s class come together to support each other and their teacher, or will this tragedy erase all of the good that happened this year? Read Because of Mr. Terupt, a nominee for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, to discover how much one teacher–and one life-changing incident–can make seven students reexamine themselves and what really matters to them.
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I totally related to several of the characters in this book, especially Danielle and Luke. I couldn’t stand Alexia through most of the book, but I rejoiced when she turned everything around. Jessica, Peter, Anna, and Jeffrey also stole little pieces of my heart. All of these students became better people…and they did so with the help of one very special teacher. Mr. Terupt, through his super-fun lessons (which I may have to recommend to some teachers) and his ability to see what his students really needed, was a teacher who was able to reach his students in a way that no one ever had.
I’m hoping to purchase copies of this book for every teacher in my school for the start of school in the fall. I think it’s a book that all of them should read to see how much of a difference they could make in their students’ lives. (For those of you who don’t work in education, you may not realize how discouraged we get sometimes, particularly when one considers how public education is viewed in today’s society. A book like this serves to help us remember why we do what we do.) I’m passing this book on to my mom next. (She’s an eighth grade math teacher.) I hope she takes as much away from this amazing, inspiring book as I did.
For more information on Because of Mr. Terupt and author Rob Buyea, visit http://robbuyea.com/. I just went to the site myself and learned that there will be a sequel, Mr. Terupt Falls Again, that will be released on October 9th. You can bet that I’ll get my hands on this book as soon as I possibly can.