Towards the end of my teaching career I thought about all the students who had passed through my classes. I started teaching in 1969 with ten year old students in my fifth grade class. Those first students are now fifty-one years old. Some of them are probably grandparents by now.
I have completely lost track of anyone during those first six years I taught before I was married. Except for a few, I can’t even remember any names to reconnect with any of them. I often think of whether I could find any of them on FB. Of course the majority of the girls I taught would have different names so it would make my task even more difficult. There have been a lot of wars since then. I wonder if any of them entered the military and were killed. I guess I’ll never know.
Teachers who teach in large cities have much more difficulty keeping in touch with those students who somehow touch their lives, unlike those teachers whose jobs keep them in small towns where they can keep track of their former students and their families for entire lifetimes.
It has been fun reconnecting with some of my former students I taught since I re-entered teaching in the mid 80s. The oldest of them are now in their middle thirties. I had one memorable family of children during my career of whom I had lost track but found once again. Of the five of them, I had four of them in my classroom. Every Christmas for years their mother sent me cards with pictures of the growing family. I looked forward to seeing those children every year and watching them grow. I watched them grow from children to young adults. Soon the youngest will be out of college.
I don’t remember exactly how, but I found one of them on FB. She had been in my English writing class in fourth grade. She loved writing. I remember conferences with her mother over her writing style and grades. It’s funny what you remember. I remember she had much talent, but she didn’t seem to care that much about capitals and punctuation. To her, her story was what was most important. I remember her mother sharing that at the age of nine, she had already written her first book. I can’t remember what grades she got, but I am not sure they were always As. I don’t think I emphasized the mechanics of writing all that much, but they were an important element of the dreaded state tests so I had to figure their usage into my grades. Those teachers who care more about margins and mechanics and call that teaching writing, squash the last ounce of creativity and joy out of students who could some day really blossom.
Getting back to my story, now I discover she lives in New York and is working on a couple of books. She majored in literature in college so her calling has been life long. She writes a very interesting blog a couple days a week. I truly enjoy reading about her life and her struggles. In many ways I can identify with her. I fervently hope she doesn’t lose her desire. I would love to receive a copy of her first published book.
I wrote a poem many years ago. Reconnecting with this former student reminded me of it. I would like to share how I feel about those students I have touched and who have touched me in my career.
We are teachers, touching the future as only teachers can
Implementor of the Future…Molder of Presidents…Creator of Leaders
Handling fragile egos, plasticine characters
Gently shaping, probing, prodding tiny buds of full-of-life minds.
Daisies, roses, brilliant crepe myrtles in our gardens
All needing nourishment and encouragement
To blossom from budding potential
Thirsting for knowledge.
Knowing dandelions make fine wine
With their brightly colored saffron hoods and spiked leaves.
We acknowledge that even prize winning roses have their thorns.
We are the gardeners pruning unwanted actions and guiding
So carefully, coaxing the growth toward reaching full bloom
Willing to accept delayed gratification as a condition of the job
Resting after years of dedication, hearing of new stars
On the horizon, some we recognized, some surprises
Teachers who taught helped to create a new universe.
I will be extremely pleased if she becomes a published writer, especially if she ends up on the best seller list. I admire her for being much more motived with her writing than I ever was. I can see her as a shining star in a universe I am no longer young enough to enter. I offer her my most fervent wishes for her success. Namaste. Attic Annie