Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quest For Perfection

In my seventeenth year now at WCS, I have been incredibly blessed with amazing teacher's aides, both in basketball and in the classroom. My basketball assistant coaches started with Ugo Ihekweazu, leading to Brandon Greene and Sean Coleman to Amber Glenn, from Fallon Ellis to Sonja Vuong, from Tiffany Davis to Devin Chance, from Marie Bailey to Christian Chevis. My classroom aides,  have ranged from Kelly Spriggs to Nancy Barrera, from Chelsey Villarreal to Hanna McAdams, from Betsy Kelly to Gloria Oyekanmi, from Samaria Mouton to Karla Zelaya, from Beverly McDonald and Bouba Matuzcek and Viri Maldonado to my amazing aide the past two years, Megan Elizabeth Hill. (Forgive me for I am sure I left someone out!) This year, my classroom aide is Minna who decided in 8th grade she wanted the position which comes with no pay but a Bible for Christmas and a sterling college letter of recommendation! Not great perks but there is always the reward of being idolized by a bunch of eighth graders!

Minna is off to a good start. She has taken over the role of matching my shirt and tie with the proper color of pants/shoes/belts. She has solid reviews from my students and believe me, I am terrible at coordinating my clothes. She also has redone my bulletin board flawlessly as I knew she would. But there is a small glitch in Minna's schedule. The only time she can be an aide is 8th period and I have a class of eighth graders during that final time slot of the day. It makes it more difficult as she has to perform her routine while I teach. I lay out what I need her to do when she comes in- she's always first to arrive- and she immediately begins her duties. Minna, an amazingly talented young lady, is so quiet I sometimes forget she is in the room. She is a terrific organizer and alphabetizer, a big plus in this job. In a normal year, she would call grades and I would log them into Renweb, our school communication system with parents, but we cannot do that when I am teaching. Twice already in this young school year, Minna has stayed after the final bell so we can get all the grades for the day entered- not many are willing to go that extra mile. A great aide makes a teacher's life easier and my beginning for this term has been smooth.

As soon as the final bell rings, I go stand in the confluence of our two upstairs' hallways to help with crowd control and make sure the kids exit smoothly and I did so today. I came back to Room 258 seven or eight minutes later and Minna was still there. She had several stacks of paper laid out and I could tell she was flustered. She had come up with the idea of writing all the grades down on a roll sheet after alphabetizing the quizzes...but someone forgot their name in sixth period and she could not figure out the culprit. Also, some of the kids had neglected to put a final grade on their quiz so she couldn't mark down their mark. Then there was the matter of my third period class quizzes which she could not find- I had neglected to tell Minna I had already graded and recorded them myself earlier in the day. Right then, her friend, Amara, also one of my all-time favorite students, came in to check on Minna. And these words came out of Minna's mouth.
"I'm trying to make this perfect since I can only be in here during a class."

If you know Minna, now a senior, you know she has been here since four year old kindergarten and that she is universally loved by all her teachers and classmates. She is a wonderful student and artist, musician and soccer player. And she was blaming herself for a class schedule that neither of us can control or modify. I told her how grateful I am for ALL she does and how she is doing an incredible job for all of my students and that the schedule absolutely does not matter. (I also told her this would show up in a blog!) Amara chimed in and I think we made Minna feel better. I just hope I haven't done anything to make her feel guilty!

We're all like Minna at times. We try to work harder and be creative and be perfect and hope God will accept us. We get frustrated with our meager efforts so we try to work even harder to make Him proud of us but that has never been a requirement for His love. We will never reach perfection .....but Minna tries. Did I tell you she volunteered to take all the graded memory verses and quizzes home and recycle them in her neighborhood? That's about as close to perfection as you can come as an aide but she doesn't have to go that far. Every other teacher would love to have her as their helper but I'm the blessed one this year. We'll work all this out but next year's going to be tough on me! People  like Minna only cross our paths on rare occasions..... and when we are very fortunate.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect."
 Chinese Proverb

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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