Yesterday after school let out, I got paged to come to the main office. I always get a pit in my stomach when I hear this message....just like when I was a student. You just never know what is going to happen when you get called to the office.
When I got there, I saw a young man talking with one of our secretaries. Although I haven't seen him in several years, I knew immediately who it was.
His name is Zach and I'll never forget the first day I saw him when he was in 4th grade. It was the middle of the school year and I could tell he must be a "new kid" because I didn't recognize him. But I couldn't help but notice he was wearing a CLEMSON sweatshirt. Hardly anyone in this area of NC wears Clemson so he stood out to me immediately. I pulled him aside and said, "I love your shirt. I went to Clemson for college." He was extremely surprised by this and said he had just moved to NC from SC and his entire family was Clemson fans!
The next school year, he ended up in my 5th grade class. We would chat about Clemson football on Monday mornings. I just remember him as being a really good kid. He was polite, hard working and willing to do anything I asked him to do without complaining. He was never the best student I had academically, but he worked harder than just about anybody.
The year I taught Zach was the same year I had joined the fire department. I was going to my EMT classes at night and would talk to my students about the importance of studying, doing homework, etc, because I had to do all that too. I would share stories from my classes and what was happening at the department. Zach would ask questions just like the other kids did. Towards the end of my EMT class, my instructor came to my class and taught all the students CPR!
Well, yesterday Zach came to visit me. I haven't seen him since May 2007, when his class "graduated" from elementary school. He came by to tell me that he had joined his local volunteer fire department! He had joined a few weeks ago, but was getting his fire gear, helmet, etc that night and wanted me to know!
My job as a teacher is to help students learn what they need to know for academics, but I also feel as though I am to help teach them life skills, social skills, and how to make a difference in the world. I teach them math facts, history, and how to be a better reader. I teach them how to deal with tough situations and how to make smart, wise choices. I teach them to think about others and what they are going through, rather than think of themselves first.
Yesterday taught ME that my students do LISTEN and LEARN!