Graduation Time!

I’m covering a graduation for our local online paper today.

I hate the idea of going to graduations and have joked with my nieces and nephews if tickets are limited I will sacrifice my place for others. But once I get there (they almost always find me a ticket, probably to be funny) I usually find myself a bit moved.

Sometimes it is the students, and their enthusiastic innocence, but more often it is the educators.

Their words are often filled with such heart and affection for these kids they have shepherded to this place. There is always a bit of sadness at seeing them go (though probably whoops of joy for those that were the bane of their existence) and excitement for their futures. I suspect sometimes there is also fear for the path they are on or the odds stacked against them.

But most of it is pure inspiration. You have to be an optimist to be a good educator, I think. Even if you hide it well.

I loved my teachers. I am still in touch with one, who became a good friend. We called her Mom B when we were in high school (and sometimes now.) Not only did her last name begin with “B”, but she was the woman second in line to our moms when it came to being a role model and example.

She enjoyed being with us and conveyed that in all she did. She used her free time to take us to certain cultural events and Model UN tournaments.

I kept up with another teacher until his death. It was back in the letter writing days and he wrote me letters through college and beyond (the original recycler, he wrote me letters on the backs of things like his retirement papers). We drove each other crazy when I was in high school. He threw me out of study hall about two weeks into my senior year. About five senior friends walked out with me and we never went back.

He also has the distinction of being the only teacher to ever send me to the principal’s office. While it scared me to death, the principal was kind when I finally got to see him. I got back to class as the bell rang. We had a test. I took it in less than ten minutes (the time before my next class started) and aced it. I suspect no one was more tickled about that than him.

A good teacher pours themselves into students. Note I always qualify the “good”. Bad teachers ruin their hunger for learning and can damage a student for life.

Thank you to the good educators. And let’s throw good parents in there, too, because they too educate daily. You are making our world better. Even when it seems as though your words and efforts go unnoticed, this former student will tell you some will remember your words forever.

Be proud of your good work. Send them off with good wishes and confidence in their good qualities. Speak those good qualities to them. They will never forget. It makes all the difference.

As for the kids who had obstacles to being all they can be, let’s all look out for them and see if we can help. Education continues forever.

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