annual

My niece, Liz Masterson is a gifted teacher of high school journalism. She is also a gifted photographer. I suppose the two things go together in many ways, but I don’t know if most journalists are also gifted photographers. This dual career that Liz has keeps her very busy. If she is not grading papers, she is taking pictures of the sporting events at the school for the annual and the Kelly Kall. During the school year, she has very little time to do much else.

Nevertheless, on Thursday nights, Liz; her mom, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; Liz’s niece, Aleesia Spethman; and I go to dinner. We try to go different places, so that we don’t get bored, but the reality is that we just enjoy spending time together. Liz has many interests, and we enjoy hearing about the challenging subjects she addresses with her students. I think they do too, because most of her students become her lifelong friends. I think very few teachers can say that. Most teachers prepare their students for graduation and the next step in their lives, and then they slowly fade into the student’s past. Liz is very different. Her students don’t want her to fade into the past. They want to always be able to share the great things they do in life with their favorite teacher.

In her off-time, Liz is a mommy to her fur babies. Her puppies, Luka, Scout, and Buffy; and her cat, Professor McGonagall…usually known as Kitty. Liz loves her fur babies, and feels bad that she has to leave them during the day to go to work, so if she ends up working at night, as teachers often do, her puppies get to go to the grandma, Cheryl’s house to play with her puppy, Missy. It’s almost comical to me, because I’m not used to seeing puppies need a babysitter for an evening, but these are Liz’s fur babies, and she wants the best for them. And what baby doesn’t want to spend time with their grandma when their mommy can’t be home to play. When Liz is home, she and her fur babies have the best times playing together. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Broken wristI love the two annual family get togethers that the Byer side of my family has. It seems like each year brings the passing of another of my aunts and uncles, or at the very least, a close call, and as each of them gets a little older, the possibility of losing another of them seems very real. This year when Aunt Virginia arrived, with her arm in a sling, we found out that she had fallen the day before and broken her wrist. It will be in a cast as soon as the swelling goes down a bit, but when I think of what could have happened, had her granddaughter, Autumn Beadle not been there, I cringe. Autumn is so good to her, as are her son Steve and his wife, Wanda.

The picnic, on Sunday, was a lot of fun. The day was beautiful, with just enough breeze to keep it comfortable. The food, as always, was great. We have so many good cooks in our family. My mom, my daughter, Amy and I had an opportunity to visit with Susie and Clyde Young, Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim Richards, Aunt Sandy Pattan, Peter McDaniels, Aunt Bonnie AutumnCliff and Keith ByerMcDaniels, Uncle Wayne Byer, Aunt Jeanette Byer, JeanAnn Stanko, Elmer Johnson, Keith Byer, Cliff Byer and his family, Cindy Ellis, Aunt Virginia Beadle, and Autumn Beadle, Shannon and Terry Limmer, Jim Pattan, John Pattan, and so many others. I especially like that Mom got to visit with all these people, because while I am on Facebook and have a chance to connect with them, she is not. In our busy lives, it is really hard to go visit our family members at their homes, but Mom doesn’t do the computer, so when people can’t visit, she doesn’t see them much. She misses that time with her family a lot, and loves every chance she gets to see them.

I always find it interesting how much the children have grown. It gets to the point that you Elmeraren’t absolutely sure who they are. The ones I see pictures of on Facebook I can usually remember, but some you just don’t get to see as often. I can remember through the years wondering “who’s kid” this one or that one was, and my mom was having the same trouble, when she didn’t know who Mayme Williams was, or Aunt Bonnie’s great grandson, Mateo. And she’s not alone in that I hear lots of us asking, “Who does that kid belong to?” Then of course, to throw a monkey wrench in things, so people bring a friend, and you find out that it’s no wonder you didn’t know that kid…they aren’t even in the family. At least you now know that you aren’t losing your mind! That’s just how it goes at The Annual Byer Family Picnic!

Most of us have a teacher that we would have to call our favorite of all the teachers we ever had, and I am no exception, but this story is about the favorite teacher I never had. You see, I couldn’t have had this teacher, because by the time she was born, I was already out of school. My favorite teacher I never had is my niece, Liz. I can’t say that I know anything about her teaching style, and I suppose you could call me biased, and you would be right, but she is nevertheless, my favorite.

Liz is also the favorite of many of her students, and when they leave her class, most are friends for life. Her students friend her on Facebook, and even go on trips with her later. She has traveled with one student’s family to Europe, and everyone had a wonderful time. Liz is simply a friend to all. And is loved by all who know her.

I know that her teaching style is great, because you don’t like a teacher who makes class boring, or is just a bad teacher in general. I do know that while she maintains an orderly class, it is also somewhat laid back. Maybe that is why her students work so hard for Liz. They try to excel. That is a quality that is so important in teaching. You have to be able to inspire your students. That is what Liz does.

As I have watched Liz through her years of teaching, I have found myself amazed at the love her students feel for her. I rarely heard of that before I began watching Liz do her teaching thing. Most kids, even if they liked their teacher, were still done with the teachers after school was over. And almost no one wants to spend time with the teachers after school is over…except Liz’s students. I think that is wonderful.

Liz is also the photographer for events, sports, the school paper, and the annual. That is a big responsibility, and yet a lot of fun, because she has the unique ability to get to know students that aren’t even in her classes. She is careful to include every student in the school annual, and as many other events as she possible can. Those kids couldn’t have a better photographer…I know, because she has done pictures of my family too, as well as my grandson and other family members in the school activities. Yes, she has taught her cousins and nieces and nephews…and they still love her too.

Yes, I am biased, but Liz is still my favorite teacher, even though I never had her as a teacher. She is a different kind of teacher…one who really cares about her students, and that is awesome…as any of her students would tell you. And having someone in this world who cares about someone they aren’t related to, teacher or otherwise is rare indeed. Happy birthday Liz!! We all love you!!

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