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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The good stuff

The past couple of months have been rough, and I have not had much to say about lessons because it feels like all we are doing is testing, testing, and testing - state testing, district testing, state retesting, high school testing, district testing, final exam testing. It has been nonstop and will continue to be for the next two weeks of school. Fortunately, I have had some awesome reminders of why I do this.


Every year, the top 2% of graduating seniors get invited to a district luncheon to celebrate their achievements. As part of this honor, they invite an important teacher from their educational careers. In 2009, I received this recognition from one of my first year students, and I was blown away that a kid from my seventh grade class would think enough of me for this. One of my favorite memories of this student was chasing her down the hallway the day I caught her with a note. She was so well-behaved that I was quite shocked. I never did get that note, but I have watched this silly girl turn into a married woman and college graduate. 

Well, I have been chosen again by a wonderful young lady. I have had the pleasure of watching her grow up over the past few years because her younger brother was at the junior high after her. I visited the high school a couple of weeks ago and ran into her on my way out. I will see her tomorrow for our photo and then again June 2. I am anxious to ask her why she chose me over all the other teachers she has had (sometimes I find it crazy that they still think highly of me after they have gone through high school). 


Today I had not one, but two visits, from former students. As I was taking my class to lunch this afternoon, I saw a young woman walking toward me. At first I thought she might be a sub or someone's sister. Then the light bulb went off, and I could not believe I was looking at D. 

D. was in my class year's ago. She was a pain in the butt, scrawny tomboy with big glasses. If I recall correctly, we had a few parent conferences in the few months she was with me before Mom packed D. and her brother off and headed back to their home state of Michigan. 

That first student who picked me for the recognition award is also the one who introduced me to Facebook, and to this day, I have a student page because of her. D. found me a few years ago, and I have watched my former tomboy blossom in to an amazingly gorgeous young woman. So imagine my surprise when I found her standing in front of me when I thought she was hundreds of miles away. 

D. told me that she had come back and was getting ready to enroll at the community college before heading to the University of Texas at Arlington to major in social work. I am an alumni of both the school and the program, so this completely blew me away. She told me how much I meant to her and how she wanted to give back, then she broke into tears, bringing me pretty close (I am getting far too emotional in my old age). 


During my seventh period Pre-AP class, the one that drives me absolutely bonkers, a colleague showed up at my door - with her younger sister. D. (not the same name, but another D.) was one of my second year students, and boy, did she make an impact. Despite keeping in touch with her, we have been crossing paths for a long time, until today. 

D. was from my favorite Pre-AP class ever. I cannot tell you how much fun those kids were. There were some big issues at school that year, and we often had to shut down and just vent. When D. would get going, she would make me roll. 

D. had scoliosis. Our science teacher, a woman struggling with cancer, worked her butt off to get D. treatment at Scottish Rite. We watched D. go from playing basketball in a brace (and she was good) to being able to completely function without it - and show up to my classroom in five inch heels today. That girl has always had an awesome sense of fashion. My colleague died shortly after, but even this agnostic believes she is somewhere looking down at D. with exceptional pride. 

D. also attended my Alma Mater (she graduated two weeks ago). She was such an exceptional student on campus that she is featured in a campus tour preview video. When we took a field trip to the campus last year, I got all giddy when I saw her on screen. Now she is preparing to head to Ohio for graduate school. 


When I started teaching, I never considered that students would want to come back and see me or keep in touch with me. It just never crossed my mind as something that happened. After eleven years, I am still shocked when they remember me. They have taught me more than I have ever taught them through the lasting relationships they have maintained with me

They are my reason. 

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