Ease on down

I don’t miss teaching, really I don’t. It was definitely time to ease on down the road. But I do miss students, sometimes, and they’ve been on my mind since Wednesday night when John and I did our volunteer ushering gig for the Rep’s version of “The Wiz.” 

(The production has been extended, by the way, so you can still get in to see it – definitely recommended if you’ve never seen it or if you’re a fan. The dance troupe is phenomenal. We LOVED the Lion. And the Wiz is like Little Richards+Jimmy Swaggart, but in a good way.)

Neither the plot nor the songs – nor the students in attendance – got me to thinking about kids I’ve known and loved.  It was visiting with a former student and her parents and getting an update on her older brother, one of my first newspaper students at Central High School.

Hubby and I were busily handing out programs and helping people find their seats when a very tall and strikingly beautiful young woman beamed down at me and engulfed me in a big hug. There she was, tomboy, soccer-star Sarah, all grown up and lovely in her heels and bright coral blazer.

She’s finishing her junior year in college and doing just great.

That was never in doubt. She was always a sharp and responsible student.

Her brother, though, had a different reputation, evidently, before I knew him. To me, he was always an all-star and was quickly promoted to co-editor of “The Tiger” newspaper.

His mother tells a different story. She told me Wednesday night that I was the first adult, beside her and her husband, to have faith in and high expectations of her son (I’ll call him BT). She said she sees me as responsible for his success, which is considerable.

I think she’s giving me way too much credit. Another teacher also noticed BT’s considerable IT skills, for example; we talked about him. But what a compliment and how I appreciated hearing it!

BT, who according to his mother was “a slacker” before he fell in love with the school newspaper, got his degree in International Business with an emphasis in informational technology and a minor in Spanish, in which he is fluent. She says he has become outgoing (unlike the shy boy he was in high school) and has a cool and exciting job for a high-powered, worldwide technology company in Austin, Texas.

So very cool. But I never doubted he’d do such things – I could always see him at Google or Apple or some such place and encouraged him to pursue such a career. He’s not there yet, but he’ll only continue to rise. Super-smart guy.

Toward the end of his senior year, BT shyly invited me to his Eagle Scout ceremony, which John and I happily attended. l broke a rule and kissed him on the cheek afterward, in front of his parents and my husband.

I do believe the statute of limitations has expired, if you feel compelled to turn me in, in these days of hands-off teaching. (And I’m married to my attorney.) It was the right thing to do. He needed the love. And I loved him. Still do.

I loved so many of my students, even the ones I didn’t love, if you can understand that. I was never nominated for an award as a teacher, but my kiddos won plenty, and that’s good enough for me.

The only award I ever needed was to get through to some of them occasionally. Maybe make a difference in somebody’s life.

Wednesday night made my 16 years of teaching worth it all over again.

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