Two of my former students came to visit today. These spirited, high-energy boys often found their way into trouble in their many years at our school. They were my students for three years, and I experienced the full spectrum of emotion with them during that time: frustration, exasperation, joy, pride, happiness, and occasionally fear. As their enrollment in our safe haven reached its conclusion, I feared for their future. What would it be? What would become of them?
My husband and I had several conversations about the boys this summer. He lamented that my stories of the daily events at school just wouldn’t be the same since the boys graduated eighth grade. I wondered how they would do in high school. I worried for their safety, especially since they were prone to absolute impulsiveness. Would they be mouthy to a bigger kid who had no history with them? I wondered how their teachers would treat them, especially since they struggled with organization, and completing assignments on time, and could be very challenging. Would they see that special spark each boy had, and find it in their hearts to encourage them, or shut them down? I wondered if their new peers would accept them. Our school has a true family environment, and people are usually treated kindly, even in the face of frustration. I sent many positive intentions out in the universe, hoping the boys would be happy. Today, my fears were quieted.
They showed up in my classroom as we were getting ready for dismissal. I had heard they were in the building, and hoped they would stop by. The boys were greeted warmly, with my students complimenting them on their new sneakers. They joked with the kids for a few minutes and then came to talk to me.
“How’s school? How are you doing?” I asked.
They smiled, and as usual, both began talking to me at the same time. They loved their new school and were doing well.
“I’m in Honors Algebra. Remember how you taught us that b times b times b is b³ ? We had a quiz today on that, and I got a 100.”
We exchanged high-fives as I cheered.
“You know,” one of them said, “this school is really hard, but I know so much more than the other kids, it makes it easy in high school.”
Another round of high-fives was exchanged. They went on to tell me of their accomplishments. One is the head of his ROTC squad, and both are getting good grades.
After my class left for the day, one of the boys stayed behind. We chatted for almost a half an hour and he filled me in on the rest of last year’s students. He spoke a mile a minute, and seems truly content. I finally had to send him on his way so I could go home. I smiled as he left, and thought just like last year.
As I drove home, I thought about how this brief visit brightened my whole day. I can stop worrying, satisfied with the knowledge that these boys will be just fine. I’m sure every profession has its rewards, but seeing former students happy and successful just can’t be beat. Each year, students become “our kids,” and each one finds a special place in our heart. I am excited to see what the future holds for these very special kids.