Every now and then I come across a former student who lets me know that I am in the right profession. It helps to balance out the one that I feel I may not be reaching, or the parent who might be frustrated with me, and it helps me keep things in perspective - and I really needed that tonight.
I was invited to my former middle school to judge their talent show tonight. On my way from dropping Blondie off from OT, and rushing over there to be on time I drove through the window of a fast food restaurant (doesn't really help the 17 lbs I've lost, but one night won't kill me). As I reach over to grab my food I hear, "HEY MS. D." Of course I recognize one of my former students who is now a senior in high school. This child was VERY quiet, and shy, and in 8th grade barely did her homework. I constantly talked to the kids about how powerful math was to their future choices, but quite honestly it is a very rural community and some of my students didn't see college in their future. This student was one that I thought had potential, but you never know what sort of decisions they will make, so you just trust they will find their way.
So I cautiously asked this young woman her plans for the future. "Ms. Dawson, I just got accepted to Clemson, I'm going to study genetics." My mouth FELL OPEN. She smiled at me and said what every teacher wants to hear, "I wish I had listened to you more about taking the right classes. I decided last year to take the harder math classes because I really want to study why some people get cancer and other diseases. You were right - math is taking me out of here, but I had to do a lot of catching up." I asked her to keep in touch, so she asked for my "digits" and I gave them up easily. She made my night.
I'm just thrilled to know that I made a difference in this girl's life, and I can't thank her enough for actually telling me. So, if you get a chance - let a teacher know in a note, or a call, just how much they have meant for your child. It may not be the person you have this year, but it really is a pick me up for a teacher from the past.