29 November 2014

Batting 1000

Last night I attend the Class of 2004's reunion and had a chance to hear the AMAZING things my former students are doing. One (who we all thought we get kicked out of college) is now a lawyer, another is doing neuroscience research using ultrasound, another is helping design the new class of submarines for the Navy, another took one of the biggest leaps and is a stay-at-home dad. It really warms the heart of a teacher to hear when his students are living happy, fulfilling, successful lives.

As my wife and I were driving to the event, a thought popped into my head: how many students have I taught? This is my 15th year as an educator, how many lives have I directly impacted in my career so far?

When I was in high school, my fencing coach told me that he bought a yearbook every year for his entire career. He said that when he retires, he could look at the shelf of yearbooks and say 'this was my career.' He used to keep the yearbooks in school and, as someone who's dream it was to be a teacher, it was quite impressive to me. After 37 years, he retired and it took him 3 trips to his car to bring down all of the memories.

I have followed his advice and bought a yearbook every year of my career and, even though it was after 9pm when we arrived home, I pulled them off the shelf and started leafing through them. Armed with a neon green marker I put a dot next to each student I have taught. Nearly three hours later, I was at 777. Now, I know I definitely missed a few because I couldn't remember every single face or every name that I came across.

And I was disappointed.

Only 777? That couldn't be right. As I stood to stretch I remembered that I never counted the students in my current school that haven't graduated. Since I was only using senior photos (and occasionally junior/sophomore depending on the year I left the school) that meant I left out all of my students from last year and this year that haven't graduated yet. Add in another 226 and I was 1003.

ONE THOUSAND!!! I have taught one thousand students. One thousand different faces have walked through my door; one thousand butts have sat at my desks; one thousand lives I have had the chance to make a difference with; one thousand amazing people who changed me for the better.

The picture to the right is of all of my yearbooks and of my 'This Is Why I Do This' file. I keep every
letter, picture, drawing, card, etc. that is given to me by a student. When I have a really bad day--a day that makes me question why I became a teacher--I open this folder and leaf through all of the memories. It re-energizes, rejuvenates, and inspires me to keep bringing the awesome every day.

So, thank you to all my former and current students for being the amazing people that you are. Here's to the next One Thousand!