Today I had a visit from a past student, J, and I wasn’t sure whether to rejoice or to cry. Our school has a running homeroom program – we have the same students every year, and we stick with them through to graduation. J was part of my first class – and we are still close as a class. The kids call it their ‘family’, which is what makes this story so hard to write.
J was a student with a difficult life, both inside and outside of school – but he was a student with a heart of gold and fierce loyalty when you took the time to know him. He left our school, the first time, after getting into legal trouble. We were extremely concerned. The students saw my worry and kept me updated with his progress. I remember when he came back to visit and a student actually told him to talk to me because I was worried – he came by and we talked.
I was ELATED to see J walk into my class the following fall. I gave him a huge welcome, a smile, and all the support he needed. J was still having a hard time at home and struggling to find his place at school. He came by a few times at lunch and after school just to talk, and I was so happy to see him finding and adult he could trust – since it’s not something he found often in his life.
Then he told me he had to leave again. I knew things had gotten bad at home, but I felt heartsick to lose that connection and I prayed that he would find someone to talk to when he moved.
Today, he came by the school with another student. He walked up to my classroom only to find me not there, thank fully another teacher caught him and told J where I was. He sought me out. I gave J the same grin, hug, and excited yelp!
Even if he wasn’t coming back to our school, I was just happy to see him and ask him how things were. He just said, “better”. I told J how much our class missed him. We talked about what he was doing and he was going to get his grade 12 with a modular program. I am so proud and happy for him. I told J to come by anytime – and I hope he takes me up on that.
Kids like J are the reason I teach. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Physics, but to have a student who rarely trusts adults finally build a positive relationship is a larger milestone than anything I could ever teach in class. I love J as I would love my own kids, and I will continue to pray for him because, even if he doesn’t know it, he has forever changed me.
Thank you, J.