The best thing about teaching is not the pay. The best thing about teaching is the kids. Here is a look at two of my favorites, from October 19, 2007.
I ran into both of them this afternoon while shopping at Wal-Mart. I saw Chacie in the shampoo aisle and she hugged me. She was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, considerably less formal than our previous meeting. The last time I saw Chacie, she was elegant in a black dress at a memorial service for her mother. Her mom, a political insider in the former mayor of Houston's office, had succumbed after a lengthy battle with cancer. Chacie carried herself with grace on that difficult day and my admiration for her grew. I had seen her simply as a teenage girl in my sophomore Bible class but that June day, I saw a young woman who carried out family responsibilities with class and dignity. Today, she told me about her job assistant managing a store near the mall and she showed me her new tattoo, a little Christian fish right above her wrist. She told me it's a great conversation starter! Chacie promised to come watch my girls' team play this year. Her boyfriend (Blake, another former student) has a sister (Rachel) who will grace the courts for the Lady Wildcats this season. I really hope she comes by.
Not two minutes later as I checked out, Anna walked in. We hugged and talked as well. Anna, a former middle school player of mine, is now a junior at one of the big public high schools. She had e-mailed me a couple of days ago with condolences for my parents' health and congratulations on our new basketball uniforms. She regretfully told me she had missed last weekend's big Greek Festival (Anna's Greek) and lamented this Wednesday's mandatory PSAT testing day. I miss Anna, one of the best girls I have ever coached. I miss her mother, too. Her mom thanked me for coaching her daughter. I should have expressed my gratitude for her having such a wonderful child. I hope Anna comes to a game, too. Former players reinforce that what you try to do is right, regardless of the outcome of long-forgotten games. Anna was another reminder.
I don't know if Chacie's and Anna's paths crossed in the aisles of Wal-Mart this afternoon. Neither would they. The two, even though they both attended Westbury Christian School, did not overlap in their enrollments and I am positive they don't know each other. But, they share the common experience of sitting in my classroom and making my job worthwhile. They made me laugh and gave me the respect educators long for. It's Homecoming Week at WCS so maybe it's appropriate that I bumped into Chacie and Anna today. In Luke 6, Jesus said that fully trained students will be like their teachers. That's a heavy responsibility for those who stand in front of the youth of America to bear. Maybe Chacie and Anna will someday end up something like me. If they do, I hope I gave them a good model to work with.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know."
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