I Got to Be There

One of my students worked really hard to memorize a poem. This is not something that comes easily for him. He recited that whole poem. Every word. He even volunteered to go. And at the end of the poem he was so proud he shouted the last line. Jenny Kissed Me I don’t know if he will remember that poem for the rest of his life, but he will surely remember that moment. And I got to be there.

A week ago a student was called down to the Principal’s office to see his dad for the first time in 6 years. He came back to my classroom tears streaming down his face. The full-grown body that houses his 16-year-old soul visibly shaking with emotion. And I got to be there. I got to tell him how proud of him his dad must be. I got to be there.

I got to be there when a student came into my room under the guise of asking about an assignment. Really she just needed to talk to someone about the fact that she was seeing a therapist, and it was helping. She didn’t know what to think about it. I got to tell her that I saw a therapist in high school, that by the time she is thirty at least half her friends will have seen one at one time or another. She was just getting her issues worked out early, ahead of the curve. But mostly, I got to be there.

I showed a student an article that my friend had posted on Facebook. He actually read the entire thing. Then he looked me straight in the face and told me, “If I could write things like this I would be a journalist.” Later that week his study hall teacher gave him her copy of the magazine that article was in. When I asked him about it the next day he pulled out the magazine and told me about the whole thing. Not only did I get to be there. I got to help.

The coming and going of days, the terrible commute. It is exhausting some days. But it is important to remember, that it is a privilege, getting to be there. Watching students grow into their best selves. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

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