Last night I attended a high school graduation for one of my former students, Kaitlyn. I feel so honored that she asked me to come. I was her 6th grade teacher, my first year teaching, and now she has just graduated. I have so many memories of that first year. No matter what kind of training you received, nothing prepares you for having your own class. And I should add that the incoming 6th graders that year were quite the group. We had plenty of warnings from the elementary feeder schools. And as the “newbie” you better believe I got all those wonderful kids that the teachers kindly described as “active” and “social”; but we all know they really meant out of control and talkative. You are put in the class and it is sink or swim. Many days I felt like I was sinking, but there were so many rewarding moments as well. Today was one of the rewarding moments as I got the chance to reconnect with so many of my old students.
Kids spend so much time in school away from their parents that it is refreshing to know that they have connected with their teacher. As you might have guessed, I was a bit of a teacher’s pet. I guess I liked to give them the benefit of the doubt and was aware of the fact that they were (and are) real folks with real lives. They are not trying to plot out how to make your life miserable. I feel so lucky to have gone to a school with so many wonderful teachers, especially my high school English teacher (and friend) Mrs. Franzen. She helped steer me toward the college path. I knew I wanted to go, but was at a complete loss of the hoops I needed to jump through to make it happen. She marched me into the College and Career Center and I got busy writing applications for scholarships. She still teaches at Los Al, and I know that she is loved by all her students. My heart is full right now and I imagine she must feel that way every year at graduation, knowing that she made a difference in their lives.
I got to spend a bit of time chatting with Kaitlyn’s grandma today and she told me that I meant so much to Kaitlyn and that I had a big impact on her when she was in my class. Despite the many moments where it definitely felt like I was sinking that first year, it made it feel completely worth it to know that I got to be a part of her life for that short time. Hats off to all those teachers out there that pour into their students every day. And hats off to the 2011 graduates!