I’m Still Feeling My Way Around


July 23, 2014

Dear Readers,

When you lose a loved one, you expect to feel sad and lost and out of sorts.  When you lose a loved one, you expect the grief.  What you don’t expect, is to ever feel better.  I lost someone I love just over a year ago and silly me, I thought I was beginning to feel better.  The awful truth is, I’m still feeling my way around.

Today started out very pleasant, my classes were full and my students were receptive.  I was teaching a writing lesson today and I enjoy teaching students how to write.  The first essay of the year is always a personal narrative.  Students get to tell a story from their life and I get to know them a little better.  It also gives the students a chance to know me little bit better because I write a story from my life, as well.

“The best personal narratives are filled with emotion,” I explain to my students.  “Think about a time when you experienced great emotion.  Think about a time you were very happy, or very sad, or very excited.”

I had given those directions four times before the end of the day.  And after I gave the directions, I began to give examples from my own life.  For the something that made me very happy, I told the students how I felt when I graduated from college.  It even now makes me smile with pride and happiness.  For the something sad I told them how sad I was when my daughter died.  It took 27 years, but talking about Jessica’s death does not bring the sadness and grief that it once did.

Finally, for the very excited, I chose to tell my students about when I taught in the Middle East.  It was one of the most exciting times of my life and it was still fresh in my mind, having just gotten back one year ago last month.  I told my story with all of the excitement I could remember.  And I could remember a lot, because it was so fresh in my memory.

However, what was also still fresh in my memory, was the loss of my love, ESS.  I won’t go into defining our relationship, just suffice it to say that I loved him (still do), and he loved me.  It has been a year since I lost him and I was just getting to the point where I could speak his name without tearing up.  I was just getting to the point where I could talk about him with joy instead of sorrow.  I was just getting to the point…and then it all came flooding back.

My first three classes went rather smoothly.  By the time my last period students settled in their seats, I had no sad thoughts in my head at all.  Then my students began asking questions about the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and the how of my stay in Abu Dhabi.  And I was only too happy to answer them.  And then it happened.

His face flashed into my mind; a quick glance, and then gone.  I kept talking.  Then his face came into my mind and stayed a little bit longer.  I kept talking.  Then his face came into my mind and wouldn’t go away.  I was forced to confront my memories.  They overwhelmed me and it all came flooding back.  The bell rang, I dismissed my last class and I fell apart at my desk.  I was right back where I had started.

Here is an excerpt from my post on October 13, 2013, “Be Still…Listen”

“Every time I inhale, there is a whirlpool of hurt swirling around in the core of my being.  Simultaneously, my eyes bleed tears that don’t stop until they drop into my lap.  My body aches from the convulsive sobs that fall from my lips.  My throat is scratchy and red from the lack of moisture my crying seems to have taken away from me.  My lips are parched as well.

My arms have gone numb from my wrapping them around myself in a vain attempt to soothe and comfort this sad woman who is me.

My sickness is sorrow and it unnerves people.  Even as the tears run silently down my face, everyone averts their eyes, as if somehow, if they ignore me, my pain will go away.

And there is no relief.  There is no relief and there is no comfort.

When the tears finally subside, I am out of breath.  My breathing is ragged and shallow.  My eyes are swollen and now dry.  Soon, my eyes will softly shut, my breathing will slow and become even.  My shoulders will only sometimes, shudder involuntarily and I will sleep, not restfully, not peacefully, but thankfully, sleep.  And still, there will be no relief.”

This is me all over again, dear Readers.  I am right back where I never wanted to be.  I am right back in the middle of my grief, and it sucks!  But I have faith, dear Readers.  I have faith and I have hope that I will feel better, eventually.  For now, I find the smallest relief in knowing that “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Rev 21:4.

I truly hope so, dear Readers, I truly do.  Because right now, I’m still feeling my way around.  Peace, ~v.

Missteps, Mistakes and Mississippi


July 22, 2014

Dear Readers,

Every year I go back to school forgetting how difficult it is to start back up again. Several things have come together this year to form the perfect storm, not the least of which is less me time.

Last year I had 8th grade and this year I have 7th. Because of this change, I must create all new lesson plans. Right there, less me time. I know, I know, why didn’t I do my lesson plans over the summer. I wish I could have. However, the company with which our school district contracts to create our curriculum, did not have it available until the week before I went back to school.  Thus, I could do no lesson plans over the summer…darn!  I know, I know, I should be working on lesson plans right now.  Misstep.

But I have been doing a little bit of my plans, really.  Here’s the thing, though, I do not create my own tests.  The company the district uses to create the curriculum also creates the tests.  Okay.  I am told what to teach my students, I am told when to teach it to them, and I am told how to assess them.  This would be fine, except the tests are riddled with errors.  And not just simple, “Oops, I misspelled a word,” errors.  But huge, glaring, “I could drive a truck through the holes in this test,” errors.  For example, one test has an excerpt of an informational article for the students to read and then answer questions.  Only problem is, the answer to two of the questions is nowhere in the excerpted article.  I did some digging and found the original article available on-line.  When the test makers took an excerpt of the article, they did not include the part that contained the answers to two of their questions!  And the test only has five questions.  How am I supposed to deal with that?  The tests are copyrighted so I cannot change them.  Administration’s response is to…well, they haven’t gotten back to me as to what I should do.  Mistake.

There is a bright spot in all of this, dear Readers.  Driving an hour to work and an hour home each day is giving me time to catch up on my reading.  No I do not carpool, I drive myself.  I have taken to enjoying audio books.  I have been soooooo reluctant to listen to books.  I enjoy reading books so much so that I cannot even stand Kindles.  I love the feel of a book in my hands, the way the paper crunches, just a bit, as I turn the pages.  I love the way I get lost in the setting of a book and the way my mind envisions the characters, and I was under the impression I could only get lost and envision while my mind was focused on nothing else.  I was wrong, gladly, I was wrong.  I began listening to audio books over the summer while driving to and from summer school.  Not only did the time go by quickly, I found I could still get lost in the setting and envision the characters while driving.  I found I rather enjoy being read to.  It takes me back to my second grade teacher, Mrs. Pickett, and the way she would read a book to us every few weeks.  And that was where my love of reading began.  I have come full-circle.  By the way, I am listening to a book right now titled Sycamore Row by John Grisham.  The central character is a lawyer and of course there is a mystery to unravel.  I can envision the characters and I love getting lost in the setting…Mississippi.

Again, I leave you dear Readers with more of my beautiful pictures.  One of you, dear Readers said it perfectly, “God’s paintings.”  Thank you, DP.  And thank you all, dear Readers for allowing me to ramble my way into your lives.  Peace, ~v.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunrise, Sunset


July 21, 2014

Dear Readers,

It was back to school day for me and my new 7th graders, today. It went very well for me. However, having given my students the better part of my energy, I am quite spent. It feels good. I haven’t felt this blissfully exhausted in a very long time.

I must cut this short, dear Readers, so that I may get my rest. I leave you with some of Nature’s more beautiful moments. Enjoy!

 

The Curious Misadventures of El Mariachi and the Elite 8


El Mariachi

El Mariach, aka El Ching@n

 

 

 

El Mariachi's Vieja

El Mariachi’s Vieja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 20, 2014

Dear Readers,

It recently dawned on me that I have never told you my stories of the infamous superhero El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, and his loyal group of followers, turned proteges, turned superheroes themselves.  El Mariachi and his faithful wife, Vieja, spent a decade recruiting eight of the best and the brightest young people to pass onto them their values and a hope for the future.  They spent the next 38 years grooming the Elite 8 to become superheroes in their own right, so that future generations would, themselves want to emulate  and continue the traditions that El Mariachi and his Veija began.

The Elite 8

The Elite 8

Although the youngest and the last to be recruited, Boy is probably the closest to a mirror image of El Mariachi.  It also took Boy the longest to agree to join the Elite 8, and agree to follow El Mariachi’s Code of Conduct to pass on to the next generation the keys to a successful superhero.  A plumber by day, Boy dons his traje, or his superhero uniform, by night and brings joy through the awesome power of his mariachi music.  Boy is well-read, intelligent, and funny with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure.  He even has his own Vieja and together they have recruited two of tomorrow’s leaders.  El Mariaci, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Boy and lessons he has learned.

Rock is the second to youngest of the superheroes and the youngest girl.  Ahhh, but do not let the fact that she is a girl fool you.  Of the Elite 8, Rock has the most physical stamina and determination.  Rock takes after El Mariachi in personality.  She is tough but fair.  She has high personal standards and a solid work ethic.  She is also a quite a scrapper, though you’d never know to look at her.  Her petite frame and lean body mass have led more than one unsuspecting character to pick a fight with her; she’s never lost a match.  Warrior by day, Superhero instructor by night.  Rock and her equally challenging and tough partner are grooming three specially hand-picked young ladies to follow in the family business.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Rock and the lessons she has learned.

Mr. Johnson-Brown is the third to youngest.  He shares El Mariachi’s love of music and has just as eclectic a taste for musical genres.  He is a civilian “office manager” (wink, wink) and world traveler working with a military instillation by day and a community leader and activist by night.  A born performer, Mr. Johnson-Brown has led many a band.  When he sings, it is his voice that brings a tear to the eyes of El Mariachi’s widow, Vieja.  His love of music and  his love for all of the instruments he has mastered is only rivaled by the love he has for his partner, who is a nurse by day, caretaker by night.  She and Mr. Johnson-Brown recruited three young people to train, two of which have graduated onto solo work.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Mr. Johnson-Brown and the lessons he has learned.

Although trained and schooled in the art of the superhero business, Clipster has been the only one to pull away from the group, although never while El Mariachi was alive.  Clipster is a college educated man with probably the most ambition of the Elite 8.  He, along with his equally ambitious partner and their three recruits, have been elusive, or difficult to track down.  However, news trickles in from El Mariachi’s widow, who assures the rest of the Elite 8 that Clipster is keeping with tradition.  College businessman by day, Clipster continues to educate his recruits insofar as becoming a superhero is concerned.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Clipster and the lessons he has learned.

And then there is Tony.  Tony is the most charismatic male of the Elite 8.  He is a man’s man.  However, is also the biggest baby of the bunch (LoL).  Tony is the go-to guy.  If anyone of the Elite 8 need something taken care of, they turn to Tony.  They turn to him because  Tony always, “Knows a guy.”  Tony is the kind of guy who easily racks up favors, but never through coercion, but rather, through his charm.  Tony is not one to be told what to do, except maybe by his partner, who is the only one who can keep him in line.  Tony, a blue-collar worker by day, and by night, he his no-nonsense partner, train their 4 recruits for the legacy with which they will be handed in a few years time.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Tony and the lessons he has learned.

Bingo is the oldest male and marches to the beat of his own drummer.  Bingo followed in El Mariachi’s footsteps as far as his day job goes but is truly his own man.  Bingo is not a mirror image of El Mariachi, but rather his parallel.  Bingo has a love of music and musical instrumentation that in itself, is its own reward.  He is a peacemaker and a humorist.  Bingo has such a sophisticated and keen dry wit that one either admires his humor or abhors it.  Plumber by day, peaceful superhero by night, Bingo, along with is equally witty partner, guide their remaining three future superheroes to follow in their footsteps.  Bingo and his partner have already turned the reins of El Mariachi’s legacy over their three oldest recruits.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Bingo and the lessons he has learned.

Luskie is the second to oldest recruit and the second to oldest girl.  Although always  a fan of El Mariachi’s superhero, legacy to be of service to future generations, she is one of the least content being in such close proximity to the outside world.  She is a loner by nature.  However, her nurturing, motherly side draws young people towards her, so much so, that she is one of the few of the Elite 8 that is privileged enough to see the fruits of her superhero persona.  Luskie has already trained and educated four superhero recruits in El Mariachi’s legacy.  All four have been given Luskie’s blessing to begin recruiting future superheroes of their own to train; three of the four have already started.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Luskie and the lessons she has learned.

The eldest of the Elite 8 is Moosie.  Although a bit of a rebel in her youth, she always had an energy emanating from her soul that attracted people from all walks of life into her circle.  One of Moosie’s greatest strengths is her willingness to help others, something she shares with El Mariachi.  She also shares a love of performing with El Mariachi.  People are often drawn to Moosie for reasons even they cannot explain.  However, Moosie, just as El Mariachi taught her, uses her gifts to help, not harm those that are drawn to her flame.  Moosie and her former and her current partner, have sent two recruits into the world to begin passing onto the next generation the values and hopes for the future that El Mariachi passed onto his 8 recruits, the Elite 8.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Moosie and the lessons she has learned..

El Mariachi passed on some 13 years ago, give or take a few months.  However, he has left his legacy to his Veija and the Elite 8 Superheroes.  The world needs more of these superheroes.  These are the superheroes who will usher in new recruits to spread hope for the future, and to see that our values do not become immersed in the muck and the mire we so often see in not only today’s young people, but grown men and women, as well.  We need more superheroes.  We need more superheroes like the Elite 8 and El Mariachi and his Veija:  average, hard-working, God-loving and honest, family men and women who just want to continue the legacy their dad handed down to them.  After all, El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, was one of the great ones.  Peace, ~v.

The Long and Winding Road


 

Follow the road home.

July 19, 2014

Dear Readers,

Although I have barely touched the surface in revealing what I consider to be my dark days, mental illness has been the subject in which I have received the most feedback.  All feedback has been positive and encouraging.  However, several of my Readers expressed disbelief that I had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness.

“You seem ok, now,” one Reader wrote.  “…but you look and act so normal,” was another response I received.  And my personal favorite, “[if you are doing so well, now] you couldn’t have been that bad.”

Unfortunately, many people believe that you can “tell” a person has a mental illness by the way s/he looks.  Additionally, many people also believe that there is no way back to normal (whatever that means) once you’ve been mentally ill.  That is a misconception.  Unfortunately, it is because of such misconceptions that people are reluctant to seek the help they need.  I am no professional, I merely speak from personal experience, and my experience has been better than some and worse than others.  I tell my story in the hopes that someone, somewhere may feel less alone and more willing to seek help.

The youngest of my children left home in 2011.  It was a very difficult transition for me, as I had come to depend on always having one or more of my children around to help me combat my craziness.  (Before I continue, I would like to apologize to those of you dear Readers who may be offended by use of the word crazy.  I am in no way making fun of or minimizing mental illness, I just happen to take creative license in my writing to include a different array of words.)  When I found myself alone for the first time in 14 years, I was lost.  However, the darkness enveloped me so slowly and silently, I never saw it coming.

During their senior year in high school, my daughter and her now husband spent almost all of their spare time at our house.  When they were not in school, they were at our house. We would watch movies together, go to the store together and eat meals together  I became more and more dependent on them, and without realizing it, they had become my lifeline.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had begun to lose my grip on reality. I was edgy, sulky, brooding, anxious and overbearing. I tried desperately to keep from turning to past bad habits.  I was successful for quite some time, thanks in big part to my two wonderful lifelines.  But all of that was about to change.

By May of 2011, my four children were grown, out on their own, or soon to be, and ready to start their own lives.  Meanwhile, I was stalled in mine.  I have suffered from depression several times in  my adult life, so I was certainly predisposed to having a breakdown.  However, I never thought I would take my children leaving home so hard.  It is the natural course of life that once we raise our children and they become adults, they leave home and lead their own lives.  At least that had always been my aim.  So what happened next took me completely by surprise.

I was battling my demons, and in my mind, what was left of it, irrationally discovered how I could keep them at bay.  I became obsessive and compulsive.  I just knew that if I could do everything the right way, I would be able to keep it together.  If I could walk right, sit right, climb the stairs right, I would be ok.  If I could focus my mind on doing things the right way, I was convinced that I would not fall victim to depression. Of course, I didn’t know what “right” was, and even so, it was that very thinking that was a sign of me slipping into darkness.

During those dark days when I was living alone, I rationalized that my routines would keep me safe, if only I could do them correctly.  Subsequently, I would climb the stairs in my home 10, 12, even 20 times before I was satisfied that I had gotten it right.  I would reach the first landing and turn around and go right back down because I hadn’t climbed the stairs the right way.  Some nights, it took me an hour or so of climbing the say seven steps before I finally convinced myself that I really didn’t want to go upstairs in the first place.  Besides, after an hour of concentrating so hard on the stairs, I would inevitably forget what I had needed to go upstairs to begin with.  Eventually, I gave up climbing the stairs altogether.  This did not bode well for me, as my washer and dryer were upstairs.  Thus, I began washing my laundry in the sink.

Washing my laundry made perfect sense to me, I couldn’t climb the stairs, so I did my laundry in the sink. Not exactly the thoughts of a sane, rational person, I get that. But at the time, it seemed perfectly logical.  I applied this same irrational thinking to almost everything, which of course, led to my irrational behavior.  For example, I would walk out my front door at 3:30 in the morning to be to work by 7:30am.  Although normally, the drive to work would take me 60 minutes at the most, I left 4 hours early because it would sometimes take me that long to get from my front door to my car door.  I oftentimes would stand outside my front door locking and unlocking the door until I locked it just right.  And sometimes I would have to go back into the house and start from the inside. Allowing myself 4 hours to get to work eventually became routine, natural to my irrational self.  Needless to say, I could not continue indefinitely in such a manner.  It was just a matter of time before I snapped.

I am unable to pinpoint just where I began slipping away from reality.  Heck, I can’t even tell you the month or the year the darkness began to take over.  And that has been my savior and my demon.  Not being able to remember when I began to lose myself, has made it easier to work my way back.  I am sure that my not remembering is my mind’s way of protecting me.  I mean really, if I can remember things like climbing my stairs 20 times and washing my laundry in the sink, can you just imagine what I can’t remember?  I shudder to think.  So for that, I am thankful; nothing like having to relive your most embarrassing moments over and over and over again.  On the other hand, because I cannot say for certain when and how it all began, this time, I am afraid that demon can manifest itself when I least expect it and I will not be able to recognize it.  However, I cannot focus on that.  I have done the hard work to get myself back to the land of the living.  No more having to relive the past and no more worrying about the what-ifs of the future.  I am finally living in the present and it feels good, it feels right.

Now that I am out of my dark days, I accept that I may never be what society considers normal.  I also accept the fact that some people will keep their distance from me, so as to not catch my illness.  That is the price I must pay for speaking out.  That is also the price I am willing to pay to let others know that they are not alone.  Trust me, dear Readers, someone, somewhere, and at sometime will read this and recognize themselves in these sentences.  Someone, somewhere, and at sometime will read this and know that there is hope.  I may not be able to save the world, but maybe, just maybe, I can save someone.  Peace, ~v.

You Make How Much?


A new school year begins.

A new school year begins.

July 18, 2014

Dear Readers,

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you want me as your child’s teacher.  I do what is in the best interest of the students, even if it is not what is in my best interest.  Small example, today’s students work better in small groups than individually.  Subsequently, my classroom is set up with tables and chairs instead of traditional student desks.  Students working in small groups drives me up a wall.  However, it is not about me, it is about doing what is best for my students.  And I do a great many small things that would ordinarily bother me, but it is what is best for my students, your children.  Today, I was reminded of one of the great things that I sacrifice for the good of my students:  my salary.

Because my salary is a matter of public record, and without an exaggeration, I will tell you that my it runs somewhere between $33,000 to $35,000 pr year. I have an advanced degree with a double major, my student loans totaled over $43,00, and I have been a certified teacher for 14, almost 15 years now.    I think I have eared the right to  earn just as much as any other professional with my educational qualifications.  However, most of you Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizens do not seem to agree.

Last night was our school district’s Welcome Back to School Night for both parents and students.  I found myself in the middle of a conversation between two parents about what educators should earn once they become teachers.  I politely declined to give my opinion.

However, it is a subject that comes up every few years or so.  In fact, even now, my school district is proposing to its citizens an increase in its primary property tax levy.  This would increase property taxes on a $100,000 home from $2,370.00 to $2,639.20.  And that was the topic of discussion I came upon last night.

Although I have addressed this subject before in my August 1st, 2013 blog post entitled “A Class Divided“, the conversation is almost always the same thing.

“Another tax raise?  We just voted to give teachers a raise.  But, I see in the news that our school’s are failing our children.  What about that?  Why should teachers get more money if our kids can’t even read and write at grade level?  Shouldn’t a raise be based on your job performance?  If teachers are doing their jobs, shouldn’t students be able to pass their reading and writing tests?”

I just smiled and nodded, very non-committal.  But that just gave the parents fuel to add to their fire.

“Aren’t the reading and writing scores at this school not very good?  A couple of years ago, my oldest son took the [reading and writing test] and he did not pass.  But he passed his Language Arts class.  How does that happen?  Shouldn’t he pass the state test if he passed Language Arts?   I don’t understand.  I think it’s the teacher’s responsibility to make sure my child learns what he is supposed to pass the test.  Do you think teachers should get a raise  when kids are failing the state test?  I don’t want them t raise my taxes.  And I don’t want to pay teachers for not doing their jobs.”

I remained quiet, still smiling and nodding and in time the parents ran out of steam and we got down to the business of introducing ourselves.  However, I can and will answer the parents’ concerns right here and right now.

Yes, I should be held accountable for how well I teach your children, my students.  The problem is, the state test the students take are not an accurate measure of my job performance.  Just because your child does not pass the state test does not indicate I did a poor job of educating him.  There are so many factors that go into whether or not your child does well on his test.  Did he get a decent night’s sleep?  Did he have a well-balanced breakfast?  Did he complete all of the homework pertaining to what is on the test?  If homework is not turned in, if classwork is not completed, your child has not done his job as a student.

I, however, have done my job.  I have completed the lessons and given the tests that the state requires of me.  I do my job and I do it well.  I should get a raise based on my job performance and not your child’s test scores.  I can think of no other job that ties trainers raises to whether or not the workers they trained can pass a test.  No, it is the worker who failed the test that either loses his raise or loses his job.

Being a good teacher does not necessarily translate into high, or even passing test grades.  There are so many other contributing factors.  What are they, you ask?  Well, each child is different.  I know only a small part of your child’s abilities, worries and various other personal characteristics.  I can assess, observe, and teach your child.  However, and this is a very unpopular viewpoint, you as his parent should be able to tell me what the other contributing factors are to your child’s testing abilities.

You are his parent, I am merely his teacher.  One of us has more of a responsibility than the other.  One of us has the potential to spend more time with the child than the other.  One of us has values and morals to teach this child.  Me, his teacher, I do the best I can.  You, the parent, do you?  How about the student, does he do the best he can?

Geez, all of this for a mere $34,000 a year?  Peace, ~v.

How Will I Know?


July 17, 2014

Dear Readers,

Who are the teachers you remember?  What makes them memorable?  Although I am determined to teach my students the art of the English language, I am just as determined to teach them that I care about them.  I will know if my students have learned anything from me about English when, and if, they are promoted to the next highest grade.  I will know if I have taught them reading and writing skills when, and if, they graduate high school, or when they graduate college.  When I see that, I am confident that I will have played a part in their education.  But how will I know if they learned that I truly do care about them?   I found the answer to that question yesterday evening.

Last night was Back to School night at my school.  You all know the drill, parents and students get to meet the teachers they will have for the upcoming year.  Teachers get to pass out their expectations for their students and how to contact them for the parents.  It is a two hour whirlwind of names and faces, some I will remember come Monday, the first day of school, and some I will not.

In addition to the 40 or so parents and students I met last evening, I was honored to have two of my former students visit me.  And it wasn’t until I began to start my lesson plans for the next few weeks, that I seriously realized the impact that I had on these two young men and the impact that they had on me.

Over the summer, TF, one of my students from last year, contacted me to let me know that he was having surgery on his hand.  He made a conscious effort to message me to inform me when he was having surgery, when he was released, and how his recuperation was going.  I was very concerned, as he is an athlete and was looking forward to attending high school so that he could wrestle and play football.

TF came to the junior high school last night and stopped by my classroom.  He showed me his hand and explained to me how well it was healing.  He is doing so well that he will be able to play both of his two sports his freshman year in high school.  I was very pleased, very pleased.

My last visitor for the evening was PB, another former student from last year.  He stopped by to say, “Hi,” and I was touched.  No, dear Readers, I was more than touched.  I was proud, I was pleased, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Here is why:

Over the summer, PB contacted me to let me know how his summer was going.  It was the usual chit chat of what I did last summer, until he sent me the following message:

“…I got a summer job…it was a good lesson..I would get paid by…whatever they tipped me.  It was a pain in the a** and it teaches me to stay in school and not be busting my[self] in the sun washing cars.  It was an experience, I made it through, [but] I’ll stick to school.  If I get a job during school I don’t think I would make it, it’s too much and that’s how people usually drop out, they think it’s easier to make money than to stay in school.”

I was not only proud of PB, I was quite touched that he thought enough of me to let me know of such an important lesson he learned over the summer.  How many teachers get such a gift?  I’ll tell you how many, not many, that’s how many teachers get such a gift.

As I’m sitting here trying to complete lesson plans and coming up with reasons to continue teaching,  my thoughts drift to TF and PB.  I am so proud of these two young men, I know that I made a positive impact in their lives.  They know that I truly care about them.  And they made a positive impact on my life.  I know they caught the lesson I try so hard to teach my students, I care about you.  I care about you.

Thank you, TF and PB.  You saved me.  Every time I am right on the edge of throwing in the towel, every time I am close to walking away from teaching, someone saves me, and last night it was you two.  I thank you both from the bottom of my heart.  And my future students truly owe you a debt of gratitude.  Until we meet again, Peace, ~v.