Archive for April, 2015


There have been a lot of kids over the past 30-some years.  A lot.  Some remember you. Some you remember. Some fondly.  Some not.

This one was special.  He was a person with high-functioning autism.  In trouble.  A lot.  Somehow he glommed onto me.  They kept him in French because he, somehow, behaved for me.  Not that he learned any French.  I was his ‘hot pass’ person.  He moved on.  Dropped out of high school.  Lots of trouble.  But he still kept coming back and visiting.  I knew his grandma, his mom, his little brother.  He kept getting taller and getting more tattoos.  Tried this and that.  Finally got a GED.

Well, Friday was my last day teaching.  I   was faking it for the kids.  I didn’t want to go through any explanations or good-byes.  So I was standing in the hallway, watching the kids and there he was.  Tall and tattooed.  He has a wife, a child, a job.

I wonder what the kids thought, seeing me hugging this grown-up kid.  On my worst day, my last day, there was grace and redemption, if I can use those terms.  No matter how much I felt I was quitting, giving up, a failure…there he was, letting me know that my being there for him all those years ago had made a difference.

We can’t save them all.  We can’t help them all.  But there are some you remember. And some that remember you..

Why we do it


When Amber (name changed) was in 6th grade I hardly ever heard her speak.  Her head was usually down, face hidden behind a curtain of hair.  She whispered when called on, and didn’t seem to get procedures like daily journal work.  Her grades weren’t good. I greeted her by name every day.

Amber stayed in French in 7th grade.  She said hello to me occasionally.  Never volunteered. She turned in work occasionally.  She was never a behavior problem, so unfortunately she was often ignored.  She started occasionally coming to a club I sponsor, and I saw her talk with friends.

This year I could hear her when I called on her, and her work improved.  One afternoon she stayed after school for help on the same evening that I was helping some other students write their skit for the state French contest.  Another student  invited her to join the skit.  She said okay!  She stayed after school every day and laughed and goofed off with the other two kids coming to contest.  They battled with fake baguettes and learned their very silly lines.

Today was the contest.  Their little skit won!  As Amber left the contest her head was up, her eyes were sparkling…she wasn’t the same little girl I met two year ago.

So that’s why we do it.

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