Every teacher has THAT kid (or maybe a few) that she will never forget. For me, it’s a boy I taught in both fourth and fifth grades many years ago. He was brilliant. When I read books aloud he shared ideas that were far beyond anyone else’s thinking, including mine. He could just see some things, they just made sense to him.
Unfortunately, he never believed me about how brilliant he was. He struggled to read and in fourth and fifth grade if you can’t read you must be stupid. I don’t really understand dyslexia, but letters didn’t seem to stay still on a page for him. No matter what I tried I couldn’t help him read easily and I couldn’t convince him of his intelligence.
He and I kept in touch through at least his eighth grade year. We attended theatrical performances at his middle school (it was so fun to watch other former students perform) and he even came to my house one day and helped me stain my new pantry doors. I wasn’t ready to let go. I always felt like I should be doing more for him. His potential was so great.
After eighth grade we lost touch. By then I had two kids and many new students. When I would drive by his apartment building I would wonder what happened to him. I thought about him frequently, more than any other former student.
Today, he walked into my classroom. He is a senior in high school and is volunteering at our school for some of his community service hours for class. When I turned around and saw him walk in with our assistant principal I teared up. I’m not sure what message my current first graders got from the huge hug I gave him and the fact that it took me a couple of minutes to pull myself together before I could finish giving the directions for their math activity. I don’t really care.
We didn’t have a chance to talk much today. Eighteen first graders working with dice and counters kept us busy. But he’ll be back. There will be time for that.
I requested one of these volunteers when the email went out about them. I always do. If there is an extra set of hands available they are always welcome in my room. I even knew that some of these students were alums of our school and I asked if I could have one of them. I thought I’d been around long enough there is a chance I would know them. It turns out that he was the one volunteer who asked about a specific teacher. He wanted to know if I was still here.