My first year of teaching I was as petrified as a little kid trying to sleep in their bedroom for the first time with the lights out. For most of the year I felt as though I was completely teaching in the dark. Luckily, I had the most amazing group of children a teacher could ask for! We grew together and in the end, I saw little bit more clearly what it truly meant to teach.
Amongst that group was a shy, soft-spoken little girl named Melanie. I can still remember leaning over her desk to highlight her name for her because on the first day she simply wrote 'Me'. And then, within a week, she could write it on her own. I can still go back to that very moment and see her face lit up with such pride. As an educator, you always want your students to take pride in themselves and their classwork. You continuously discuss the importance of them doing their best, reaching for the stars, putting in effort even at the toughest moments. Melanie embodies these qualities. Every day she came to school eager to learn and every day she walked away knowing something new. In the beginning of the year she went from knowing one sight word, “my” to knowing over 100 in May! For the first time in my teaching career I could see the educational growth of a child and it was unreal! However, Melanie’s academic success is not the only thing that made me proud of her. It was her kindness that amazed me. She’d be the first at her table to share her crayons, the first on the playground to ask others to join her in her games, the first to give me a hug in stressful moments. Over the years her quiet ways have somewhat diminished and she has become much more spirited. She even called me by my first name about two weeks ago while celebrating her mom’s graduation (another beautiful story in and of itself). Although she has certainly become more outgoing over the years, there are many things that have remained the same. Characteristics that will never change within her. Traits that, as an adult, I admire. She has remained driven, which I must credit her mother for. Melanie has watched her mom work, take care of her children, obtain her GED, and continue her education to become an LPN all in the short three years that I have known them, which is the best gift any child could be provided with.
It has been three years since Melanie was in my class and every day last year she would come to my classroom with a book in her hand and make sure her little brother made it to my door happily. She would ensure that his backpack was put away neatly, his homework was taken out, and she gave him a hug before she went on her way. Whenever my mom was in town visiting, she’d make sure to stop by my room to say hi, which may sound simple, but it meant more to my mother than one would think. For these reasons and a million more I will always remember Melanie. And as she continues to grow, I can’t wait to see what her future holds because I know whichever path she chooses it will be one filled with brightness and success.