I met up with a former student the other day. She had traveled from one coast to the other to attend her son’s college graduation. I live nearby.
Tara was a bright kid. Curious. An enthusiastic learner. She was in my reading class 42 years ago. The fact that she even remembered me is amazing.
Back then I was in the early stages of my teaching life, trying hard to navigate an educational system that I wasn’t sure had a place for me. My memory of that time mainly focuses on my struggles.
When Tara shared her memories —novels that we read, engaging activities, outdoor adventures—I suddenly recalled them as well. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe I had made some kind of difference.
That’s what we all want, isn’t it? To make a difference in another person’s life. And it’s very gratifying to know you have. Thank you to Tara, and to the others who have shared their experiences with me over the years. It really means a lot.
Several years ago, on a trip to the east coast, I visited my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Domovich. I shouldn’t have been surprised at how old she looked given the number of years since I had been her student. She appeared to be having some serious physical challenges as well. Despite it all, she remembered me. I sat in her living room and shared memories of her class, and of her as my teacher. She beamed, and I floated. Within a year, she died.
If you ever had a teacher who made a difference for you, I encourage you to share that with them. It will mean a lot to them. And to you, too. I know from both sides.