Featuring Ms. Skillern

I want to spoil her. Not my daughter. My son’s wonderful third grade teacher. Yesterday, as I was making thousands of copies for her, she stopped by to chat with me for a moment on her way to her short lunch break. My son and I have been trying to figure out what types of things she likes so that we can buy her an appropriate Christmas present. And, to no surprise, my son had very little clue about what she likes and keeps forgetting to ask her. So, in between her giving me a brief update on how my son is doing and exchanging pleasantries about our Thanksgivings, I asked her what she wants for Christmas. Kind of tacky, in my opinion, but I don’t want to give her something that she will not enjoy or that she will have no use for. She named off several things that she enjoys doing and I made a mental note to buy her at least one of everything. You see, this is one of the ways that I tell people just how much they are appreciated. I buy them stuff. The more I like you, the more I will want to spend on you. Even though I am quite the frugal bargain shopper.

I realized today that I want to spoil her because she does so much for my son. She is incredibly patient, a quality not well known in our household. She takes the time to encourage him in his weaknesses without patronizing him or making him feel like he’s just not good enough. And I wonder how these people do it? As I walk through the halls of his school, I listen to how the teachers talk with the kids and am fascinated that they have the nerve to go back day after day and do it all over again. I would not be able to handle a job like theirs.

The depressing fact is that they get paid so little for making such a mark on our children. This is why I will buy her whatever she wants for Christmas and will devote an hour or two of my time every week to standing at the copier machine with a bored ten month old on my hip, making 20 single or double sided copies. I want her to know just how much I appreciate her helping my son become the person that he is becoming, because she has such a strong influential hand in his upbringing. Let’s take this season, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, to tell the teachers in our children’s lives just how special they are. If you can’t spoil yours with tangible gifts, write them a personal card or take a minute out of your day to shake their hand and tell them just how special they are.

Here’s to you Ms. Skillern, for all of your hard work! We asked her just a few questions about herself and here’s what she told us:

Where are you from and how did you end up in Austin, Texas?

I’m originally from Lubbock, Texas. My older brother came here to go to the University of Texas. He harassed me until I became a Longhorn as well.

Why did you choose to become a teacher? How long have you been teaching?

My mother taught High School English, and my father was a professor at Texas Tech Law School. It’s a family thing. I’ve been teaching for almost 2 years. But really, we’re all teachers and students.

Who is your greatest influence?

I have an abiding respect for those who work daily for peace. My parents have always shown me the greatest example of that work.

What motivates you to do what you do, day after day?

I would have to say my students motivate me. I don’t know a better feeling in the world than when I see that “I got it!” look in their eyes.

Tell us one of your secret indulgences?

I love gadgets. My current obsession is my ipod. I spend way too much money on itunes.

Where would you most like to vacation and why?


I love New York City for the museums and shopping.

What is your favorite thing about being a mom?

My favorite thing about being a mom is those unexpected moments of love, kindness or humor children bring into your life. It seems as we get older we forget about those little things.

Tell us your best childhood memory.

My best childhood memory is running around playing games with friends at twilight in the summer.

How old are your children?

My daughter is 5 years old.

Which did you like better, being pregnant or giving birth? Why?

I loved being pregnant and feeling her movements.

If you were portrayed in a movie, who would you want to play your character?

I’d want Ingrid Bergman. I just love her.

What would be your theme song?

It’s terribly sappy, but probably “Life’s A Dance” by John Michael Montgomery.

What has been one of the toughest struggles that you have had to endure throughout your career as a Mommy?

There’s a quote by Margaret Culkin Banning that a mother “never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.” I think that constant feeling of responsibility can be a struggle.

What is the one thing that you want to make sure your child knows before leaving home?

She can always come home, no matter what the day holds.

If you had a million dollars, how would you spend it?

I’d take family and friends to Europe, flying first class. I’d give a ton to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. I’d spend too much on my class. I’d blow a bunch shopping for unnecessary items.

Catherine Prystup
About Catherine Prystup 2157 Articles
Catherine Prystup founded LiveMom.com out of a desire to build a better community for Austin-area moms. She has three children, ages seventeen, eight and three years old.

1 Comment on Featuring Ms. Skillern

  1. my sister is a 5th grade teacher and i hear her frustrations on a regular basis. My hats off to all teachers!

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