Friday, August 22, 2008

Hope For The Future

"In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years." ~Jacques Barzun

Callie and Jordan came into town this evening and we went to grab a bite to eat. We gave our order to a cute, young clerk at the counter who seemed vaguely familiar. As she handed my debit card back to me, she shyly asked "Did you use to teach at 81st Street?". When I answered, "Yes." She smiled broadly and said "Hello, Ms. Jamar. I'm Kierra L____!" Oh my goodness!

Kierra told me that she is now almost 19 years old. Her mother passed away eight years ago and she is a senior in high school. She looked wonderful, and I was instantly transported back 15 or so years to the sweet, shy smile that she always flashed in my classroom. I taught Kierra in a preschool special needs classroom when she was just 4-5 years old and after she left my class, she moved to a different school and I never heard from her again.

I can't really explain how good it felt to see her. I've kept in touch with several of my former students---quite a feat since I taught them when they were so young. But, more often, I teach a child for a year or two and then lose touch----never really knowing what happens to them in subsequent years. Given the poverty that many of the children face and the difficult family situations, I sometimes open the morning paper hesitantly, wondering if I will read about the arrest of a former student.

In the classroom, I always tried to make school a place where it was fun to learn and discover. But, more importantly, given the population that often passed through my doors, I wanted them to know that my classroom was a place where they could feel safe and loved. So, to see this beautiful, confident young woman who is obviously doing so well, brought me close to tears.

I couldn't wait to get home and dig through my box of "school pictures" to see her again as a preschooler.

Thank you, Kierra!!

What a great way to begin a new school year----
with hope for the future!!!!
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