Up until my third year of teaching, I wondered everyday why I wanted to be a teacher when everyday felt worse than the day before. It seemed like a million jobs in one but with little appreciation or support. Yet after those first difficult years, it became easier and I was reminded by my students of why I chose this career path. It wasn’t just a career – it was a lifestyle. For me to teach children not just academics but how to aim for success in life, how to make friends, how to have manners and proper etiquette, I had to be aware of every move I make as well as learn to increase my interests for everything that I was teaching them. A simple “good morning” to a child or adult goes a long way and shows you care – I love when my students now say it first before me! After a while, you see them mirroring you in both good and bad, and you realize how important your presence and your examples are. They look up to YOU.
But last year, I realized that I look up to them too. The intelligent conversations they have, the curious minds that allow for exploration and questioning, the innocence of knowing the good, the respect they have for others, the inner drive they have to succeed (though this could take multiple modes to dig out of them!), and the smiles they bring when you least expect it.
In the spring, one of my students was diagnosed with cancer. He missed a couple of days in school and I had wondered why. At first it was just a stomach problem but then it became more severe and treatment was immediately needed. I remember not having the courage to talk about it with many people, and if I did, I had to hold in the tears. I was scared to visit him at the hospital for fear what of what I would see or learn. But it was he who taught me not to be afraid. When I walked into his room, the biggest smile appeared on his face. “(gasps). HEY MS. NG! Check out what I’m doing!” and he wanted to tell me story after story about his time since he left school. His laughter was endless and his energy was strong. He said to me “Don’t be afraid. I’m a little scared but I’ll be okay. They keep me busy. Did you see the Blue Heron drawing on my wall? Did you see my birthday banner?” I was compelled to stay strong and just have a great conversation with him about all the birds he saw out the window!
Well, just two weeks ago, I received this letter from him, and I am glad to say… He’s kicking cancer in the butt. 🙂
I remember learning about the Make-A-Wish Foundation which grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses since I was in middle school but to see it actually helping a child I know fills me with joy. I found the most perfect bird card to reply to him with and I can only hope that his treatment will be over soon and he can go back to school and his life at home. Thanks to him, he has given me a renewed spirit and remind me that no matter what to stay strong. Make the most of what you have and where you are, and life will be brighter, filled with joyful memories that will never fade.
As always, thanks for reading! xoxo