Did I read that correctly? Yes, it was one of my students. Well, a former student. At what point do they stop being my student? Is it the day they walked out the door of my sixth grade classroom for the last time? I still see them as sixth graders, even when I see them at a restaurant or store with their own children.
I enjoy seeing them as adults. Facebook has allowed me to peek into their lives and share their joys. I see weddings, births, graduations, and new jobs. I shed tears often. Many of them are tears of joy.
But sometimes they are not. I see their struggles – breakups, divorce, job loss. I feel a sadness that cannot be fully explained when one of my “kids” is hurting. I see their names in police blotters and in news articles. I wonder how I can help them. What could I have done differently?
As a teacher, we have students for a short time – just 180 days. But in that time, a relationship is built. I have 180 days to shape a small part of their lives. And they have shaped mine. I hope that something I did as their teacher has helped them to be a better person.
So I pull out my photo album to look upon the smiling face of that sixth grader. Next to it is written that the best thing about sixth grade was having me for a teacher. It makes me smile, as I shed another tear.