Tag Archives: teaching

Today a Young Man Came to School…

Today a young man came to school.

No big deal…
That happens every day…
That’s where he should be…
…you say.

He…
…is not an average kid
…has behavior issues
…is average. If average is high-risk.

Okay, and?
…you ask (shrugging your shoulders).

Today a young man came to school
and he inspired me.

He came in…
…cold
…wet
…visibly upset
…completely out of dress code
…and after walking maybe 3 miles toward

Nashville and turning around
and coming to school.
Not home, to school.
Where he felt safe.
An alternative program
where he had been for about 3 weeks

I spoke to him as he came to my class.
Asking if he…
…was alright
…was going to be able to work
…would be any trouble
???

His voice – it broke as he responded.
And my heart – it broke as I listened.

You could hear…
…the pain…
…the desperation…
…the loss…
…in his voice.

He looked like a cornered animal.
He reacted like an abused dog to attention.

I told him…
…he made a good choice coming to school
(not the myriad other choices he could have made)
…some days we must focus on the small, minute-to-minute decisions
(not the big decisions)
…some days we rejoice at getting through it step-by-step
…that I enjoyed having him in class because he works hard
…I was proud of him for making the right decisions this day
…I had faith in him and knew he could keep it up

He came in and worked hard
At the end of the day he left…
…with a smile
…shaking hands with teachers

I hope he returns tomorrow. He said he’s moving to Nashville.
I never tell my students I’ll miss them…
…but I do.

Today a young man came to school…
…he didn’t have to, but he did
…and he inspired me
…and he taught me

A Quick Reflection About This Year…

Went to a funeral today. This has been a year of ups and downs beginning with the death of my father and ending with the death of a coworker’s husband. The funeral brought back many memories of my father’s funeral. My heart breaks for my coworker, her daughter, but particularly for her 14 yr old son.
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On the upside, I’ve renewed my passion for teaching high-risk students after really feeling frustrated at the beginning of the year. All thanks to a student from last semesterwho reminded me of the problems they face daily and the compassion, the structure, and the championing they need from teachers. I was reminded that my problems pale in comparison to some of the things they have encountered in their young lives. I do not envy them, I do not pity them. I respect them. My dad taught me to be fair, to be compassionate, and to be kind. That’s what we all want: to be treated with fairness, kindness, and compassion. It’s his legacy. I can only hope to fulfill it and live up to it.‪#‎YouMatter‬ ‪#‎YouHaveAPurpose‬ ‪#‎YouAreNotAnAccident‬

Dear Dad…

In dying, you taught me to live, to be strong, to be humble, to be selfless, to be faithful, to have hope, and to keep a sense of humor.

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Dad, about 1952, age 10

Dear Dad,

I miss you more than words can adequately express. You were my sounding board, my keel, my touchstone. I valued your advice and words of wisdom in more ways than I can count. My anger would always be abated after talking to you, my eagerness encouraged, my doubts erased. You held me up when I wanted to give up. You would help me see the long distance goals when all I could see were the short term obstacles. Your reminiscences showed me that doing dumb things is part of growing up and being a kid. Your seeking forgiveness for your failures reminded me that we all continue to need forgiveness. Your approval of those things I made with wood always made me glow with happiness. Your guidance in how to use tools and methods to build things never ceased to make me think you were always by my side when I completed them. Your listening ear without judgment allowed me to speak freely with you about so many things. Your constructive criticism was invaluable to me because I knew it came from a position of love and respect. Your joy at my success motivated me to keep persevering. Your sense of humor allowed me to see the silliness in things and to not take things so seriously. Your childlike humor kept me young. As I grew older I realized how hard it was to be a father and became quick to forgive you for your shortcomings when I was a child. You tempered me in the way fire tempers steel.

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The inside left flap of my dad’s calculator cover. This was located in his workshop and I found it the day he passed away.

When you discovered you were dying, I told you that your last lesson was to teach me to die. I am so glad you never taught me that lesson. Instead, you taught me how to live. You were strong, oh so strong, in the face of overwhelming odds. You were humble, incredibly humble, and knew that it was not by your hand that you would pass away. You were selfless, completely selfless, and always thought of everyone else even in the midst of horrible pain. You never gave up hope, always believing that you would be healed. Your humor never gave way to despair and you made those around you laugh until you simply could no longer do so. You never lost faith in God and leaned on him throughout these last years. A son could not want more from his father. In dying, you taught me to live, to be strong, to be humble, to be selfless, to be faithful, to have hope, and to keep a sense of humor. These are the definitions of love. You taught me to love.

You were a successful father even with your failures. I am proud of you, who you were, what you became, and what you taught me. I learned how to be a father from your shortcomings and your successes. My earnest hope is that I am half the father you became; that my children say about me what I say about you.

I love you and will always miss you and yearn for the day that I see you again. Death does not hold the same…prospect for me that it once did as I know I will see not only our Lord, but I will see you again. I will enjoy seeing my children grow and rejoice with them in their successes, victories, and triumphs. I will enjoy grandchildren when and if they should arrive while I walk the Earth. I will always remember you in all I do and say. Your example is my example in how I deal with students, my children, and other people. Your kindness, compassion, and forgiveness have been my watchwords for many years now. As I deal with students I consider how you would have dealt with them and the compassion you would have shown and the heart of love you would have displayed.

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Dad in his workshop – June, 2013

In retrospect dad, your last lesson was not about dying. It was about living and about love. And I am eternally grateful for what you taught me those last two and half years.