This morning, I got up early. Even though it was a beautiful Sunday morning, I didn’t hate the idea of getting dressed and going to school. It was worth it to me so that I could feel better prepared tomorrow.
The last few weeks have been filled with changes and challenges. At moments, I questioned my decision to return to teaching full-time. I wasn’t sure that I could do it all the way that others expected.
This year, I am mentoring a brand new teacher. He has never taught first grade and he is learning everything. He has so many ideas and his desire to do well is refreshing. Yes, it takes time to be a good, thoughtful mentor but his enthusiasm has helped me make the transition back to being in the classroom.
My son is adjusting to the change despite testing the new normal boundaries at times. I am glad that I get home before dinner to hear about the day.
My first graders are starting to form a cohesive group of learners. I am trying to stress the importance of our little community within our big new school campus. As expected, this is easier for some than others.
There have been a few rough days for me. I underestimated the energy that it would require to return to Monday through Friday teaching. At times, certain challenges seemed that they would be part of the everyday, but something happened to shift my thinking.
I was about to enter a Starbucks for a much-needed triple latte. I heard a young lady call my name and smile widely when I said, “yes?”
A tall beautiful girl stood before me. She sported piercings and black eyeliner and ripped up jeans.
“I was in your class fifteen years ago, but I’m afraid you won’t remember me.”
I asked her to tell me her name and hoped that I would.
“Well I go by my middle name, but you knew me as Debbie.”
I smiled. I remembered.
I asked about her brother and her sister that I had too. I learned that things hadn’t been easy for her…just as I had feared it might be all those years ago.
“I was so worried you wouldn’t remember me.” She leaned down to hug me.
“I drove by school and it was so sad. They tore it down and built a new one.” She seemed as sad about it as I was when the tear down first happened. I explained that I knew about the remodel because I still worked there.
“You are STILL there?”
At that moment, I felt eighty.
“Yup. I’m teaching first grade still with twenty-two students.”
We talked for a few minutes more and then she said, ” I don’t remember what you taught us, but you were the only one who cared about me. You were my favorite.”
To be honest, I’m not sure which one of us got the most out of this reunion. She seemed glad that she had been remembered. I was too.
I told my friend and long time colleague about the coincidental meeting and what she said impacted me.
“That was no coincidence. That was karma, God, or the Universe reminding you that this IS your life’s work. Teaching is what you are meant to do.”
Those words, about that meeting, reminded me that I am where I should be. I’m lucky. It’s not every day, with every job, that you make a lasting impression. I remind myself this now during the harder days. The busiest moments.