The Hundred-Foot Journey is a great movie. Its theme is how love can overcome life’s traumas and troubles, and it is about love on several levels – love for one’s career, family, a significant other, and self. The main character, Hassan, a gifted chef, makes interesting choices about how money and fame fit into his personal journey.

Hassan loves cooking, and he is a student who focuses on learning the basics; but, eventually, he also becomes a leader of innovation among chefs. The love and support that Hassan’s family give him, especially from his father, a mentor, help him succeed.

This week I thought about how much love and concern motivate teachers. Often we teachers, like Hassan, have received these gifts from others, and we want to share them with others, namely our students. Many of us have demonstrated our love and concern for our students by working this summer on our own time to prepare our new classrooms.

This year I will be teaching at Hope Academy, which is located at the Presbyterian Home for Children in Talladega. As I worked last week, before the students arrived, I thought about the students who will be entering my classroom. What will be their strengths, their personalities, and their individual stories? Even before I have met them, I love them. In this strange way, I am like other teachers in wanting to give the students a well-decorated classroom and provide for them many well-planned activities. In the movie, Hassan works hard to please his customers with delicious dishes.

I thought back to my own teachers. I never appreciated them when I was a student, but I do now. I never before realized how they had to plan each lesson, each textbook assignment, and each activity. Most teachers do this planning either during the summer months or after school each day. Then, there are papers to be graded and recorded, tests to prepare, conferences with parents, and a myriad of other duties.

In the movie, Hassan uses many of his non-working hours studying in order to become a better chef. Such hard work pays off, although sometimes he had to cook without the reward he deserved, such as when his rival dumped his gift of a special dish into the garbage can. Teachers often lovingly serve students without getting respect in return. This predicament is one of our biggest challenges.

Students, especially teenagers, sometimes require more time before they connect with their teachers, and this is made easier when teachers demonstrate respect and love. Last year, one of my students e refused to look at me for the first few weeks of school. Finally, after being kind to her over a period of time and after speaking to her about this trait, she flashed a quick smile. I knew after that she would come around, which she did.

Thankfully, most teachers are on a journey of love, like Hassan in the movie. We persevere because we love and have rapport with students.

Alabama state superintendent Tommy Bice recently spoke in Calhoun County to teachers. His message ran along the lines of remembering to enjoy our students, to create fun activities for them, and to use the first few days of school to become acquainted in a positive sense – great messages.

In the movie, Hassan works a long time to bridge the gap between his family’s restaurant and that of his rival. We teachers have journeys ahead of us, too; and my hope is that we will find them as fulfilling as did this positive, even if fictional, character.

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