Mrs. D. | Teen Ink

Mrs. D.

September 20, 2007
By Anonymous


As we walk through the door of Dori's cozily furnished home after picking up her son from football practice, Dori goes straight to preparing dinner. As she artfully layers cheese on the pizza, she signals that she is ready to start. Even with having three children, a husband, and students in the classroom to look after, Dori, or as I call her, “Mrs. Dee” seems calm and collected, as usual. This is one trait that I admire of hers, along with her being a devoted mother, putting family first, being an inspirational teacher, and still finding some time to do what she enjoys. She is always ready to help others.

Naturally, I ask Dori about her family first, since they had always seemed to be her top priority. Her reply to my questioning of her most memorable moment is, “The birth of my three beautiful children,” which did not surprise me. Dori’s middle child, who is my connection to her, has a close-knit relationship with her mother. “She is very considerate and caring,” she tells me, “and sometimes I take that for granted.”

Mrs. Dee says that she has always looked forward to starting her own family, and now that she has, her favorite part of is getting to spend time with her kids, ages 10, 14, and 16 and their friends, because they “always make me laugh.” However, having three children puts Dori at a means to become what she calls “a taxi.” Rides to and from multiple sports all year long are required, making her life busier than it already is, but she still finds a way to enjoy it.

Coming upon our next topic of conversation, Mrs. Dee’s childhood, she tells me the story of opening up her first bank account. As a shy teenager, Dori went to her dad, asking for him to open an account for her. Being the supportive father he was, Jim told his daughter that she had to do it herself, forcing her to break out of her shell. Although it may seem like a simple task that everyone must eventually do, Dori says it “scared the liver out of me” because she was not used to speaking up. Afterwards, her father was standing outside the bank ready to congratulate her. By helping her to be independent and voice her opinion this time and other times, Jim directed Dori into being the outgoing, perky person she is today. I think her dad also lead by example for her, which is why Dori is such a supportive mother now.

Another challenge of Dori’s growing up was helping her father care for her mentally disabled sister. At the age of fourteen, she had to be responsible for herself plus her little sister, the only other help coming from her dad. She reminisces how she and Jim would rotate nights when they could go out, making sure someone was always there to assist the youngest. They were like a team, she says, which reminds me of her family today where everyone works together and helps each other.

Along with being an interactive mother, Dori works as an instructional assistant for challenged students. “They make me laugh,” is her reason for enjoying it, along with the opportunity to get close with the kids. She had worked as a substitute teacher for a few months before getting an offer for a position as an instructional assistant, who helps students with special needs get a normal school experience. “I fell in love with the class,” Dori confesses. I look to Mrs. Denhardt for advice, and so do her students. “Smile and be positive,” is what one should expect to hear after asking her for advice. Anyone would tell her that she lives up to her words. On only rare occasions you will see Dori Denhardt without a smile on her face.

With such a hectic life, it may be hard to imagine that Dori has time for herself, and sometimes, she says, it is. Her organizational skills must help with managing time. From the chores schedules to the arrangement of home videos, everything in the Denhardt household has a place and purpose. Even keeping a tidy home hasn’t left her with enough time to achieve some goals that she has set for herself. Finishing college is near the top of her list, but managing a family and classroom does not leave the needed time to take classes and do the best she could with them. Going on a mission’s trip is another goal of hers. Her blue eyes light up and she cracks a smile as she says a hot air balloon ride and an African safari are also on her mind. Raising a happy family is a goal that Dori has already acheived, and all she hopes for now is for them to be successful, she explains with a chuckle.

Along with having aspirations for herself, art is something else that Dori does for herself. Her talent is obvious as I glance around her cozy home. Family pictures, sports awards, and childhood artwork are all incorporated into the decor of the Denhardts' home. Scrap-booking is also a hobby of Mrs. Dee's; in fact, she was in the midst of one a few weeks ago. Brenna,her middle child, and I got back to her house at around 11 at night, and walking up the stairs we noticed a light on in the hallway, and sure enough, there was Mrs. Dee, slaving away on a scrapbook full of childhood memories. She wished she had one growing up, and decided to make one for herself. Not wanting her kids to be in the same situation later on, she also created one for each of them. She could have easily made one only for herself, but she is always thinking of ways to help others, which is something I commend her on.

Dori Denhardt has been a supportive mother, loving teacher, and a welcoming host for many people. I have spent much of the past year in her home, and there has never been a moment that she was not accommodating. She is like a mother to me, and I thank her for being constantly reliable. Her love for her family and students is never ceasing, and she has provided wise advice countless time for them. Asking her my final question; what is one piece of all-around advice you have for me, she ponders for a while before giving me an unexpected answer. “Be a part of something bigger than yourself,” she recommends. With all of her accomplishments, and her drive to finish off her goals, it is shown that Dori has been involved in many things bigger than herself, and has inspired me to do the same.

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