Something about yesterday’s post didn’t feel right. I mean, I enjoyed writing it and giggled when I re-read it (don’t act like you don’t laugh at your own jokes. Liar.), but then I read some of the comments and got…sad.
It’s totally my fault. This time of the year is a little overwhelming, and I let my emotions get the best of me. I promise it’s not the last time that’ll happen. But I just have to set the record straight.
Listen, educators have it rough. Administrators can be puppets, school board members are “volunteers” with personal agendas, and standardized testing is kicking us in the teeth.
If teaching were such an awful gig, so many of us wouldn’t have signed up for it. And I wouldn’t have missed it terribly while holding my beautiful newborn baby in my arms. I mean, that’s powerful, right? Rocking perfection in a quiet nursery, yet still yearning for your career? How many people can say that?!
It’s hard, but it’s rewarding. Isn’t that the case for everything worth doing? Exercising, day-drinking post-20s, parenting, writing…
Speaking of writing, I want to share this with you not to toot my own horn (maybe just a little), but to emphasize the good. The good students with good hearts who got a good education and who are doing good. No I didn’t mean well, but thanks for re-reading a few times to be sure. *Wink.
I received the following message a few months ago from a former student. He was one of my first students, actually, so don’t get all “damn she’s old” when you read that he is now a professor. Let’s just pretend I started teaching when I was 18, okay?
Anyway, I asked this fabulous student if I could publish his words, and he kindly granted permission.
Hey Ms B. or J. or whatever I should call you now, (Editor’s note: my married name threw him for a loop)
I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being a positive influence on my life. I was just reading some of your blog entries and it made me sad to think you aren’t in a classroom anymore (granted for the best reason you could have). I never was a very vocal or outgoing person in high school, but I have grown into a man who believes in saying the things he thinks and feels. Thus, I felt like sending you a message.
I was teaching some of my students last night (they are first semester engineers at the University of Virginia) and they started asking me about my educational background. To say the least, they were speechless to hear about (my high school). The fact that the person they’re entrusting to teach them physics at a collegiate level is someone who went to a low-income school district and is one that they normally would look down upon was astonishing. A few of them even apologized to me.
I never have really stopped to think about how lucky I am to be here because failing has never been an option. They made me reflect, reflect about how many times I could have just quit, said enough was enough, got into drugs, listened to the notion that nothing good could come out of Valley (Editor’s note: that’s our high school’s name)… Hmm, out of the Valley, kind of poetic now that I think about it…(Editor’s note: get it?!! Brilliant.) I could have just never left to follow my dreams.
But then there were people like you and others (Editor’s note: teachers’ names removed for privacy), that never really let that thought slip into my head. For that hour we had class it didn’t matter that we were a “bad” school district, we were going to learn and that was that. I don’t really know where I’m going with this but I just wanted to let you know that I have fond memories of that freshman year English class I took with you and it was the first “accelerated” class I ever took. From that point on I don’t think I’ve ever looked back. I hope some day you find your way back into the classroom though, because I’m sure there are others out there like me that just need someone to push them.
P.S.- I totally owned one of my boarding school, elitist buddies last week in a conversation about The Cask of Amontillado and The Most Dangerous Game. (Editor’s note: swelling with pride)
I literally cry every time I read that bad boy. I want everyone to know students like Dan exist. They are going to be doctors and physicists and teachers and lawyers and parents. They are articulate, bright, hard-working. They see a challenge and they face it head-on. They don’t allow a low-income school district or personal obstacles to prevent them from achieving their dreams. They are do-ers, givers, scholars. They are hope. They are our future.