For 41 years, Tom Wells was an extraordinary teacher and coach in Augusta. And now he has written an extraordinary book about what it takes to be a great teacher and to do the best you can for your students.
The book is Dear Mr. Wells – His Students Speak, published by Maine Authors Publishing.
I can only hope that every teacher or anyone who wants to be a teacher will read this book. And you do not have to be a teacher to both enjoy and appreciate it.
Tom’s book includes dozens of notes he received from his former students when he retired. Many of those former students were struggling when they came into Tom’s class, but every one of them left with confidence and a determination to do well in school and in life.
Tom accomplished that by focusing on every single student with concern, care, and love. He would often arrive at school at 4:30 AM and start meeting with students at 5 AM . His students often hung out in his room, including for lunch.
This does not mean he was easy on his students – in fact he was a very demanding teacher – but he spent lots of time with every student encouraging and helping them through their struggles. And a lot of students also referred to his great sense of humor.
Here is one thing from a student that was repeated by many: “You are the most caring teacher I have ever known. I love you and hope you never change. I will never forget you.”
One student wrote, “I’ve never worked so hard and felt so good. For that I want to thank you and tell you how much I appreciated your dedication to teaching.”
And while I would like to share the comments of many more students, I’ll just give you one more: “Mr. Wells, thank you for everything you taught me about writing, life, loss, and acceptance. You have played an influential role in creating the strong woman I am today, and I can never, ever thank you enough.”
Tom does note that all the things that have been loaded on teachers recently have made it much more difficult to focus the necessary time on each student. That is a real shame.
But I can tell you, if every teacher focuses on each of their students the way Tom did, those students are going to be very blessed.