About 33 years ago an amazing woman started teaching at Tomlin Junior High (Middle) School in Plant City. To me a teacher is a special breed as it is, but Mrs. Becky Hosmer is a step beyond, even more so. She teaches the ILAP (intensive learning alternative program), which means problem students — the ones who get in trouble, cause trouble, have had a hard childhood, and have behavioral issues. In short, the ones the odds are against.
When I went to Tomlin more than 20 years ago we had six classes, and four out of the six were spent in Mrs. Hosmer’s class. I am one of the many students she had a chance to make a difference with. Throughout her time she has shared her classroom, knowledge and experiences, along with her big heart, with more than 475 students. But when she accepts a student into her class, she looks at each one as a part of herself. She is a friend, a teacher, at times like a mother or father to some, and a counselor and a mentor.
Recently, a long-lost friend and I got back in contact through Facebook. She wanted to do a flashback. During our planning it ended up being more of a reunion party. We went to visit Mrs. Hosmer to borrow some of her many photos so we could make a slideshow. I had not seen Mrs. Hosmer in more than 20 years. As soon as I walked through her door, she knew exactly who I was. As we sat catching up, we flipped through many photo albums, and she named off students as if it were only yesterday. Each student was so much more than a student to her. We were Mrs. Hosmer’s kids.
My friend Celena and I were inspired to form a group on Facebook of former students of Mrs. Hosmer. In just around a month we have added 32 people and are still searching.
It is important to us to let Mrs. Hosmer know what she has meant to us. She is retiring this year, and it seems we went to see her just in time. She, along with the Tampa Bay area, should know what an important role she has played in so many kids’ lives. Not only us directly, but our children and grandchildren will benefit from the lessons she taught and the shoulder we cried on, along with the stern lessons she gave.
She has given so much to students whom others would not even want to look twice at. Let’s be honest; we were not the easiest to impress.