Mother, English teacher, Charlotte Bronte enthusiast — all of these describe Mrs. Yagel, an English teacher of over 25 years. This year will be her second year of paper grading for TPS. She teaches Advanced Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, and English 3, and she has such a great love for her students and the books they study.
Brooke: What was your most prominent moment as a mother?
Mrs. Yagel: There are a lot of small moments that I can think of. My daughter and I are very close. She was an only child and so was I. I was with my mother-in-law at a store. My sweet little girl was in the cart holding my hand. She was so sweet. We saw another family with a mom who had a whole bunch of kids and they were acting up but the mom wasn’t handling them very well…she was smacking one of them. I got so upset, I couldn’t breathe. I looked at my mother-in-law and said: “I can’t stand that. When I get to heaven I’m going to ask God, why did you give people like that all those kids just so they could smack them around. Why didn’t he give me more children?” My mother-in-law looked at me very calmly and said, “It’s fine. The Lord can take that and He won’t mind it at all. But I think I already know what his answer is going to be.” I said “What?” “Rather than give you more children, I decided to give you the best one I have.” It was true! At our daughter’s wedding, her maid of honor asked her husband-to-be what he liked best about Devan, and he said that her default setting was kindness, and that brought it full circle for me. My mother-in-law was right.
Brooke: What is your favorite Bible verse?
Mrs. Yagel: Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will protect you, you need only be still.”
Brooke: Why is that your favorite verse?
Mrs. Yagel: We all need to trust. It’s used in the context of a battle in the Old Testament. It’s been a comfort to me in the battles in my own life. Also, we tend to create battles out of nothing in our everyday life, so I just love that verse.
Brooke: What is the most memorable event in your Christian walk besides becoming a Christian?
Mrs. Yagel: James, a former student of mine, was a sweet kid from a pretty poor family economically. He had a degenerative hearing loss and had to sit close to the front so he could watch my mouth to see what I was saying. I got to know him pretty well. In fact, after he graduated he still came back to see me. He went to the university right down the street and would come to see me about once a month to talk and to share his poetry. It was six years ago when he was killed by a hit and run driver on I-95 not far from here. His mom asked me to speak at his funeral. He was a great kid and there were hundreds of people at his church. At one point we were singing a hymn and everyone was seated. I had my eyes closed and I reached down into my purse to grab a tissue, when I opened them I looked up and there was James’ mom, standing, dressed totally in white. She was standing at her son’s funeral while everyone else was sitting and there was no way her arms could have raised any higher. I looked at her and thought, that’s faith, that’s the faith I want. To be able to lift my hands, to lift my entire being even when I feel my heart is being ripped from me. That was a faith changer that took me to a whole different level.
Brooke: Why did you choose to be an English teacher?
Mrs. Yagel: That’s not hard to answer. I never wanted to do anything else. I loved books and I loved reading. When I was a little girl, my mom would take me to see my grandma every Saturday and we would stop at the library on the way. The rule was that I could get as many books as I could carry so I got very strong about the arms. I had great English teachers and I chose to follow them because you got to read books and write papers…who wouldn’t want to do that? I just always wanted to be a teacher. I love kids and teenagers, God gave me a special place in my heart for them and I’ve really never wanted to do anything else. I love teaching, even though sometimes there are too many papers to grade.
I had such a fun conversation with Mrs. Yagel, and I wish her the absolute best in the upcoming school year.
Bible verse photo: https://www.crosscards.com/cards/scripture-cards/comfort/exodus-14-14.html