July 17, 2014
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.