Tom and Jean Gaunt recorded a StoryCorps interview in Indianapolis, Indiana, in partnership with The New Teacher Project and Indianapolis Teaching Fellows. Jean shared that teaching had been a lifelong interest she put off while raising a family. At 55 years old, though, she realized that her experience raising their children and foster children was a crucial asset in her goal of becoming a teacher.
When Jean was accepted by ITF, she worried that she would not connect with her mostly African-American, special education students. However, during her first year year in the classroom, Jean quickly learned the power of playfulness on her students.
Jean remembered a groggy-eyed, seemingly troubled, young man who got off the school bus each morning she was on bus duty. “Good Morning, Mr. President!” she would call to him, perking him up with her brilliant smile. The greeting became habit, and the boy took pride in his new title. On occasion, Jean would be too occupied to notice the boy’s arrival, but he would quickly remind her that Mr. President had come to school. “Oh, sorry Mr. President! Good Morning!” she would reply.
For Tom, this was only one example of Jean’s infectious personality, the same charm that lovingly keeps him going during their many years of marriage. He and their children are so proud of Jean that they chip in to support her in the classroom too. Frequently, when Jean works late nights, the family brings her dinner and helps prepare Jean’s classroom for the next day.
Jean said she does not consider retirement because she finally found her calling. When that day comes, though, she and Tom intend to volunteer for the Peace Corps. Good morning, Ms. Gaunt!
Click here to learn more about Jean, Tom, and the Gaunt Family.