“Do you remember me? You used to teach at Hope, right? Your sister-in-law came and spoke to us…” The high school senior smiled at me as she paused while I went back a couple of years in my brain to remember her face, and I did. She used to be a bubbly freshman when I helped lead the girl’s camp and taught for a short stint at the private school in Chicago that she attends; now she stood next to her boyfriend at the carnival on the south side that the last school I taught at has every summer. Seeing her reminded me that I am glad I tried teaching at that school…I did influence a few students…
Later that night, the sister of one of my 7th graders last year stopped to congratulate me about having a baby, and we talked about the community college where she was attending in order to study nursing. I had worked at that school as well! She loves going to the tutoring center where I used to work.
At that carnival, I saw the student I had to help kick out of the school because he wouldn’t choose to be respectful; he had grown a couple of inches. He didn’t talk with me, but it helped to see him, and see that he was doing just fine.
I saw a lot of my 7th graders, and some of them smiled at me, while several just ignored me; since school was out, and I wasn’t responsible for them anymore, I just walked on with my mango with lime and salt. Junior high students need their space sometimes!
Seeing the interconnectedness of my time teaching in Chicago almost made me cry as I thought about seeing those students as I drove home. Last year especially, because it was hard, made me question if teaching in Chicago had been the right choice. After seeing the growth in those students, my question was answered: It was worth it!
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