A student made me cry yesterday. He didn’t insult, harass, kick, slap or otherwise hurt me but he managed to touch me in a place that I didn’t know I had or with which I had somehow lost contact.
From our earliest contact, he found ways to seek my approval or attention. If we were doing an art project, he would bring each step of his drawing to me for my review. When students had to line up for lunch or the end of the day, he stood quietly, making certain that I saw his perfect stature.
But as six or eight students created notes or drawings to bring me as tokens of their thanks, he approached with a tiny eraser and handed it to me. My best guess is that he felt his drawing/creativity skills were insufficient. He said, “This is for you – it smells good.” And I took the eraser and sniffed it, appreciating and cherishing its aroma, in spite of the fact that I lost my sense of smell many years ago.
At the end of our time together, he found his way to my desk and said, “Thank you so much for being here. You are a wonderful teacher and I am so glad that you came today.” We’re not allowed to hug students (per the personnel handbook) but he was hugged anyway. And looking him in the eyes, I replied, “Thank you for being the most wonderful student I could ever imagine. You are a terrific young man and I know that you will be great at whatever you do.”
He continued to smile at me and wistfully said goodbye. Taking him aside, I whispered, “I’m not supposed to have favorite students but know that you are.” His smile fully confirmed his reaction,.
My tears ensued when I left him and the building and entered my car.
As educators, the gifts we receive are hard fought and seldom acquired. This second grader was my indescribable blessing – someone who could sense that I valued his kindness, determination and sweet soul. If ever I have reason to wonder why I am in the classroom, all I will need to do is remember him. Shalom.
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