Friday, February 28, 2014
I won't lie- sometimes teaching eighth graders can be frustrating. Some of the time, young minds aren't focused to their highest degrees. Still, I love teaching that age group! The following is about one of my favorite middle school kids. This is from November 15, 2005.
Her name was Ashlie. She was only at Westbury Christian my first two years here. When I came, Ashlie asked to be manager for the middle school girls' basketball team but she also wanted to practice with us. She was a good athlete, worked hard, and could have helped us on the floor. But Ashlie was interested in a variety of extracurriculars; volleyball, softball, and her heart was really into cheering. In 8th grade, Ashlie was in my Bible class and sat by her best friend, Amanda. It was a really good class of really bright kids. She gave me a Christmas present- a Noah's Ark tie. After that year, Ashlie's family moved from Houston to a town fifty miles from here. She kept in touch for awhile but I haven't heard from her since she was a sophomore. Every time I have relocated, I had great intentions of keeping up with people but as time passes, it gets harder and harder to do.
I did see Ashlie once more after she left. It was the fall after her move and she came back for a high school football game. After home games at WCS, we have what we call 'Fifth Quarter' parties where students and their friends come back to the gym to eat/socialize/be seen in a supervised setting. It always takes a little time to set up so I stay busy in my classroom for 20-30 minutes. I was grading papers when I heard a knock on my door. It was Ashlie. She asked if she could come in while I worked. I was happy to have the company. Ashlie sat where she always had- front row middle- and talked about how she missed Bible class and being an 8th grader. It was obvious that our school and Room 258 were places where she had felt accepted and safe. She liked her new school but it was much bigger and high school is scarier than middle school. Like many youngsters, Ashlie had wished the time would hurry up and to her regret, it did. Eighth grade was a memory. She commented on sitting again in HER DESK. Girls are much more sentimental than boys about that sort of thing. I asked if she'd like us to memorialize that piece of furniture- she was delighted. She took a piece of typing paper, cut it into a 5" by 4" rectangle, and with a blue marker, wrote these words:
Luv ya, Coach!
Of course, there were smiley faces and hearts in the corners as decorations. We taped her paper plaque underneath the seat of the desk. I made her this pledge that Friday night in the autumn of 2000: as long as I teach at WCS, her desk will stay in her place in the middle of the front row in Room 258. We have a certification course that uses our building and my room. Sometimes, Ashlie's desk gets bumped from its position of prominence when desks are rearranged. I always make sure to return it to its place of honor. Once a year, I flip the desk over to show my 8th graders who have no idea about the desk's ownership or even who Ashlie is. We talk about not wishing the time away because, as Ashlie found out, that is one wish that is always granted. Contrary to thirteen year old logic, eighth grade does come to an end.
Maybe we all have a place like Ashlie. Several years ago, my parents traveled to Michigan, my father's ancestral state. The itinerary was to visit every house Dad lived in as a boy and every school he ever attended. When my folks have made trips to my hometown in Nebraska, they have taken pictures of the houses where I grew up and the schools where I spent September through May for thirteen years. It doesn't matter who lives there now or who the kids are roaming the halls-that's my house and my school! God gave us the gift of memory so we can be mentally transported to our best thoughts of the past. He also gave us the unbelievable hope for the future that dwarfs the most wonderful, awesome, terrific recollections that any of us possess. You know what I can't wait to see? I think there is going to be a place just for me in the afterlife. There's going to be a plaque and I know just what I want it to say-
I got the idea from Ashlie!
Luv ya, Lord!
Applicable quote of the day:
"When I was in junior high, the teachers voted me the student most likely to end up in the electric chair."
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Posted by Steve Hawley at 7:52 PM