Knowing and loving our young people, either my students in the classroom or a troubled kid when I was a principal or a group of students as a superintendent is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. What could possibly have more meaning than working with our students, showing them that we love and care about them, expect and see the best in them?
On Friday night, at our SGI football game, I got to catch up with one of my Pine Valley students from the 1990’s because he’s now a parent in our district. Not only is Pine Valley a small school district but I taught Spanish so I got to teach the same kids for four-five years. We came to know each other well!
I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I enjoyed that visit on Friday night. I truly, with my whole heart, love that kid. And his classmates. Michael was in seventh grade in my first year at Pine Valley and I was there when his class graduated. In my head they’re all still about 14 years old. When I walked up to say hello to Michael I was shocked to see he’s got some wrinkles! Which of course I remarked on only to have him say, “You can’t say that to a grown man! You know you don’t have to say everything you’re thinking!” It was as if the twenty years that have passed were nothing. He was a kid in my class and I was the teacher who knew the best version of him.
Seeing him as a dad and a loving husband but still knowing the boy who he was–that was pure joy for me. When I think about the many gifts in my big, beautiful life, few compare to the gift of knowing my students as they become adults.
I’m incredibly grateful for my lunches with Nikki and Kristin, my phone calls to proof a paper for Ryan, that Jason doesn’t write me a ticket if I’m driving a bit too fast and stays to catch up, that Allison calls me for advice and makes time for lunch on school breaks, that I can read what they’re all doing on social media, and for my RCS lunch crew who came to see me this summer plus every other student who’s allowed me into their lives in some way.
I hope they know that I will always see them for the very best that they are, always expect the best of them and always love them with my whole heart. What a privilege it is to be a TEACHER.