I remember walking into my ninth grade typing class. I sat down, got out a piece of paper, and began typing. The teacher, looked at me, “such a studious student.” I can’t remember her name, but I never forgot what she said. I didn’t have a clue what studious meant. I guess I should have asked her, but I figured it had to be something good, cause she smiled when she said it and she didn’t say it to any to other student. I liked the way it made me feel. The minute I got home I ran to the dictionary to look up the word.
Studious: showing great care or attention, diligent, with a purpose in mind.
Words have power. They take on a life of their own. They become a part of your essence, they define you or they break you.
When I started teaching I wanted to give another student that same experience. I tried to remember to say kind thougthful words. I’m sure in twenty three years I said something that encouraged somebody. I retired from public school this year. My teaching career is going in another direction. I guess that’s what got me to thinking: What the heck will I be remembered for?
Einstien’s teacher wrote on his school report, “He will never amount to anything”, 1895. Thank God we don’t have a name for this person. John Lennon’s teacher wrote, “Hopeless. Rather a clown in class.“
I ran into a former student in church a couple of weeks ago. I was standing in the lobby before church. Out of no where this hugh linebacker of a man comes up and grabs me. “Hey Ms Montgomery. It’s so good to see you. You still look the same. I told my mom that was you up front.”
My mind is racing. I’m standing there praying God please tell me this kids name, you know they expect you to remember their name. I take a closer look; I’m rattling through file cabinets in my mind. I’m getting close, but still no name. I remembered the boyish smile, but that’s about it, “Hey sweetie, how are you? You look great, still not a clue. The fog is lifting, I remember I taught him in fourth grade. I just need a little more time. He obviously didn’t get on my nerves, I would have remembered him right away. “You know Ms. Montgomery I will never forget you. You are the reason I finised school. The principal wanted to retain me, but you spoke up for me. You told her to give you to the end of the year. Because you didn’t give up on me. I couldn’t give up on myself.”
I’m speechless. He went on to tell me that he has a great job, he started his own ministry for the homeless, and was about to start a non-profit for youthful offender. I’m almost on the floor in tears, I stopped another random person in the lobby and told her this is one of my student, he is such a wonderful young man. I still don’t have a name, and it really doesn’t matter. I made a difference in this young man’ life. That’s how he will remember me. Eventually one of his friend’s walked by and called his name. Not that it helped. I have no memory of speaking up for this student. I thank God I did, because he will go on to make a difference in someone else’ life; and that’s all that matters.
With twenty three years of teaching behind me Brandon (I will never forget his name again) is leading a happy productive life. When ever he sees me tells that same story to whom ever he is with and I’m back in ninth grade typing class again.