Teaching is a very misunderstood vocation because many non-educators assume that things are the same as "when we were in school". Typical comments I hear are, "didn't you want a real job?" or "gosh you are lucky! you get all those holidays off!", and my personal favorite, "ummm...how hard could your job really be?". I must confess, having the summer off is nice and having some extra time off with Madeline is great too. My job, however, is most definitely real and most assuredly hard. I have given up trying to explain these points to people who don't want to hear it. Most of the time I love my job but some days I am exhausted and cranky and frustrated with my job. I do wake up some mornings and say, "I don't want to go to school." There are days at school that I just want put my head and down and cry.
Yesterday was one of those days, the kids were cracked out on cheap v-day candy and it was insane! By the last bell I was ready to pull my hair out and as I was actually laying my head on my desk I realized that I had a visitor. I am going to call him Mr. I.
Mr. I was in my 6th period class last year and is probably one of very favorite students ever. Now, don't get confused...he was not the best behaved student I've had, or the most motivated either. But he was naturally sweet and good-natured and amazingly gifted. The down side to this is Mr. I is not from a home that values education and so trying to convince him how important it can be was very difficult. Mr. I would do anything I wanted him to do except take his classwork seriously. He was always drawing, flirting with the girls and pretty much being a standard middle school kid. I gave him detentions, made him move the class furniture around, and write tons of sentences about not talking, turning in assignments, and remembering his manners. He never argued about it with me and always had a great smile for me. I made him bring me his report cards and talked to him about things like college and grades.
By the end of the year we found out that Mr. I had passed all his TAKS tests and was commended in math, this plus his home life qualified him for a high school program called AVID. AVID works with students that have the ability and skills for college but not the money or the parental encouragement. The students accepted into the program take all honors classes, have a daily AVID class, attend college preview days, and work with college tutors. Other skills they teach the kids are how to fill out an application for school, financial aid, grant money etc... When run properly by the time that the kids are seniors they are completely prepped for college.
As you can imagine, Mr. I was surprised when he was invited to the program and I was thrilled when he accepted. I tell you this because Mr. I has so much potential but needs a constant influence to keep him on track.
Fast forward to the start of the 08-09 school year. I was prepping my room when I get a call from the office saying I had a visitor and did I want them to send him to my room or send him away. I said send him down! He stayed the rest of the afternoon and helped me get all the furniture arranged and the posters hung. During this work time, we talked about his summer and how he was feeling about starting school. He was nervous because he thought he would never fit in with "the smart kids". "Aww Miss, you know how it is! I've got a rep to maintain!" I laughed and told him it would be fine.
Now Mr. I has come back to see me on numerous occasions since then and each time he brings his report cards or his graded papers for me to see. The last time he came by was right before Christmas break. This time he brought we the news that he made all As and Bs in every class! That was HUGE!!!! Plus, he had tried out and made the JV soccer team at school. He was pretty much on cloud 9.
If you are still reading you are probably wondering, "where is she going?" I'm telling you this story because Friday was a pretty frustrating. It was one of those days when I just have to ask GOD why? Why me Lord?? And as I am asking GOD why me, in comes Mr. I. He has 2 teddy bears, 2 carnations, and his latest graded papers. I looked at him and it was all clear. GOD was telling me why I keep doing this! One of the teddy bears and flowers was for Mr. I's mom and the others were for me. I almost burst into tears. As he handed them to me he said,
"Aww Miss, it's ok...these kids will miss you next year, they're just kids. Remember how mad I used to make you? And Miss, the flower and the teddy bear are for you for always believing in me. You are like my school mom!"Ok, now is where I almost cried!! Seriously, how could I not? So instead of bawling like a big baby, I hugged and thanked him and smiled:) He asked me if I wanted some help cleaing up in my room and without waiting for me to respond, he began re-shelving books, straightening tables, and wiping them down. Just like he did in all of his detentions. I sat down to do work and he talked to me about everything just like he did in his detentions.
GOD has an amazing way of moving in our lives. It's hard for me to step back and remember that HE is in control of my life and that HE has a has a plan for me, regardless of whether I understand why or what it is. I have to remember that my life is still a work in progress.
Here is a photo I took last year of a "drawing" Mr. I made of my name on the lab table using an eraser. Mr. I is one student that I will never forget:)