Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gratitude - To the Nth degree

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A few days ago I received an email from a friend of mine, who wanted to let me know that her son—I’ll call him, “Joey”—was going to be speaking at his church. Joey had been in my sixth grade classroom five years ago. He was wondering if I would attend; this would be his first time speaking and she said it would mean a lot to him if I were there.

I arrived at 9:00 to the designated address and quietly slipped into the back row, where I could see Joey up at the front. The meeting began and progressed…a few minutes after my arriving, Joey noticed me and broke into a smile, waving.

I waved back.

When it came time for Joey to get up in front of the congregation, I sat up a little taller in my seat. I remembered the young boy in my class, who years before had a difficult time getting up in front of people, and often spoke very quietly. With a lot of practice throughout the year—as well as a mother who challenged him with every assignment I gave—I watched him slowly become much more relaxed in front of a classroom full of his peers.

However, these were not his peers. Some of those present were five or six times his age.

Joey began.

His voice was strong. He looked confidently out into the crowd. He smiled.

He began to talk about how, at this time of year, he was not grateful for parents, religious leaders, good friends, and a teacher who’d taught him to get up in front of crowds of people. He went on saying that he was not grateful for these things only once a year, but every day of his life.

I felt myself beginning to tear up as I watched this young man—still able to see the boy who’d walked out of my classroom all those years ago—a young man who is confident and strong.

For this, I am grateful.

6 comments:

Bee said...

What a great story! It's so nice to run into an old student and learn that you made a difference in his life.

And thanks for all the comments. It's nice to know I'm not the only person parents like I wrote about make me sick. Maybe it's the teacher in us:)

Things were somewhat calm this weekend, but the calmness has ended. Noah has a math project due tomorrow. We've been fighting with him since about 4:00 today after having him walk away from it yesterday evening, and the disagreements are still going strong...

K.J. said...

I am so glad you were able to see him.
You have touched so many childrens lives. The things you do that seem so little..are really BIG things!
KJ

Kris said...

"A teachers work lasts a life time"!

mywest said...

Son,
Have I done any good in the world today....sometimes your never know until something like this happens. You plant the seeds and sometimes get to see the full impact of your labors. What a great teacher you have become and best of all a son.
Love, DAD

Stephen Tefteller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annette said...

Wow. (long pause) Now that is WAY cool. That really touched me that Joey would say that in a talk, and put it so elequently too. I guess you just never know...

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