Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For a change...I am not talking about change.

I was surprised at school today by a graduate. He walked into my classroom when my back was turned. I turned around and there he was! I was so excited that I am pretty sure I let out a small scream as I pulled him into a hug.

Now, if you know me, you already know that I love it when graduates come back to visit. But this visit was a special one. JJ joined the military just after his graduation, and I was honored to be there when he graduated boot camp. He just got back from his first deployment. To say that I am immensely proud of him is an understatement.

He told me he didn't call because he wanted to surprise me. While I knew he was in town, I was still surprised to see him in my classroom today. I adore this young man. He has become a friend. A good friend. It is truly my honor to have taught his young man.

We chatted about his adventures overseas. We laughed at his own idiocy that got him into trouble with his CO. I kicked him out of my class for swearing a few times and making a couple inappropriate comments that I do not allow in my classroom. He knows that he will still get kicked out for saying these things, but sometimes he cannot help himself. The funny thing is, he was good today. This is a young man who typically drops the F-bomb every other word or so. He swears more than anyone else I have ever met, yet he works incredibly hard to tame his mouth in my presence. That very fact says a lot about him.

With JJ visiting, two other former students came to visit today, too. Two more students that I adore just as much as him. Three students I adore, two boys, JJ and R and one girl JK, were sitting in my room today as I taught. They all graduated together, and they are three of my favorite members of my favorite graduating class. I love these kids...even though they are not kids anymore.

While sitting and observing my class, he and R were talking and they said something that felt true today. As I introduced them to my class, I made the comment that while he left (graduated) high school in 2009, I stayed.

JJ then said, "Yeah, but her heart left in 2009."

The class of 2009 was my class of kids, and he was one of them. It is true. I love teaching every single student, but a part of my heart left when that class left. I miss them a lot sometimes. But, in missing them I am reminded of why I love my job so much.

I never stop teaching. I never stop learning. I love these kids; they are a part of who I am. They will continue to learn and grow and live their lives, and I will continue to teach the students who come after them. And as I do so, I hope to continue to make as much an impression upon other students as I have made on them.

And as I continue teaching, I will continue to hope and pray that I will always have students who will change my life, the way these three graduates have.

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