She was sitting outside the upper school office this morning on the floor, back up against her locker, as I was about to enter. Truthfully, I can't even remember why I was going inside the office. It was the first day of the new semester and it was obvious she was new and looking lost. In a small school like ours, you know the kids and the ones you don't recognize are transfers. I turned around and introduced myself. She told me her name and that her family had just moved here from a town several hours from Houston. Changing schools is tough and the toughness factor is squared if the move comes mid-year and pardon me if this sounds sexist, if you're a girl. I welcomed the young lady and said I hoped I would be her Bible teacher someday. I'm not sure I quelled her fears but I tried.
As I walked back down the hall to my room, I bumped into Wendy, one of my favorite students who herself went through being unknown when she and her sister, Abigail, enrolled last year. I mentioned to Wendy that there was this young lady who doesn't know anyone sitting around the corner: would you mind going by and introducing yourself? Wendy acted like I had done her a favor and as soon as she closed her locker, she made a beeline to her assignment. I passed by several minutes later and they were sitting on the floor talking. I passed by again in a couple of minutes and they were walking down the stairs together. That was awesome; talk about going the extra mile. Wendy had put her morning on hold for someone she had never seen before. but it gets better. I stand in the hallway in front of the office at the end of the day, sort of another set of eyes for crowd control. You know what I saw? Wendy and the new girl were chatting in front of Wendy's locker. I walked by and thanked Wendy for the gift card she and her sister had blessed me with today for Christmas. Wendy objected, "Please don't thank me, Coach!" I asked, "If I gave you a gift, would you thank me?" Her response? "Of course, Coach!!!!" We laughed but I left them thinking this: the best gift Wendy gave today wasn't to me.
From a school perspective, I cannot tell exaggerate how important Wendy's interaction this morning was. I've seen teenagers move into a new school and withdraw within a day or two, feeling they're alone on an academic island. Making a connection is vital. I think it's doubly so when a child comes from a large public school, as this girl has, and finds herself in a small private one where friendships are established, rules are strict and sometimes baffling, and uniforms are worn. I read one time this guy said something like,
"I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
Oh yeah- that was Jesus! He went on there in Matthew 25 to expound that,
"whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
I guess Wendy met Jesus today. He was just disguised as a teenage girl from Bryan, Texas.
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