10 years ago.
Laying backwards in my bed. Trying to catch up on my assigned The Hiding Place reading for Mrs. McMichael’s class the next morning.
My mom comes to my room and shares news about my classmate. I shook my head trying to clear the confusion and shake back to reality. She said the same thing, again.
It couldn’t be true.
I went next door to my friend’s house to confirm the news.
It was true.
I went to Spencerville today and my mind flashed back to that night ten years ago—the night that my classmates and I grew up and closer as we mourned the loss of a friend.
I thought about the lessons we learned and the memories we shared. I thought about what seemed so important then and what matters now. Being a high school teacher, I feel as I’m in a bit of a unique position to watch that cycle play over and over again. My student’s experiences are so incredibly different than my experiences. In so many ways, I wish for my students to have my experiences. Today, I think I realized why.
Friday nights dressed ridiculously in order to support the best team, even if that meant we lost.
Life lessons in Calculus that began with, “When you’re in college, friends are going to come and ask you to go out for root beer and…”
Dressing up for every basketball game, never passing but always handing off the ball to the ref, and striving to create a repetition of a class act.
Reciting commitments to “Make the best better” and “…pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.“
While that only scratches the surface of what flooded my mind as I drove back to Lima today, I realized the building blocks of my foundation. It was more than team spirit and clubs. It was life lessons. Lessons that impact my life.
I don’t know that those teachers and leaders knew then when they shared stories or managed their classrooms how often tidbits flash before me still now 10+ years later. But they do. They are an inner voice. A reminder. A goal to strive for.
I guess that’s what brings me back to my students. It has been a trying year. A very trying year. One class period makes me want to quit my job nearly daily. A combination of that and upperclassmen making “next step” decisions, I’ve been asked a lot, “Why did you become a high school teacher anyway?!” In many moments I want to respond, “I don’t even know.”
But today, I was reminded.
I want to be a part of the building block foundation for my students’ lives. I want them to know that they are cared for. I want them to know what it means to be passionate and committed, even if that happens in the 53 minutes they are in my class each day. I want them to know that they are a part of something bigger.
I want it to be 5 or 10 years later and they make the right decision because of an inner voice, a reminder, a goal, a lesson from my classroom.