Saturday, May 12, 2012

Graduation Pride

Yesterday I took a road trip to Tulsa to see a former student graduate from high school. I was invited back in November to attend this Graduation, and I have been looking forward to it since I was invited. This student and his family have been special to me for years, but life got busy and I lost touch with them. You can imagine my surprise when I heard from them in November and was invited to such the special day in my former student's life. *grin*

Early in my teaching career it was hard to teach because I had students one, two, or three years, and then they would go on to middle school. Sometimes I would see the fruit of my labor, and sometimes I did not. Early in my teaching career it was tough to realize that, as I put every ounce of energy into my students to help them succeed and be the best they can be. Now that I've been teaching longer, I've accepted it. So when a student DOES invite me to graduation, it makes me feel blessed beyond words. *grin*

You may be wondering, "Why not just go to every graduation that your former students will walk through?" That's a good question. I decided years ago that I only wanted to be there if I was invited. In Joplin, you have to have a ticket anyway, so I couldn't go unless I was invited and given a ticket. *grin*

In my 13 years of teaching, I've been invited to two graduations, and both of them (one of which was last night) I was ENORMOUSLY blessed to be there. Both of them were students that I had prayed at one point or another that they would make it to Graduation.

Don't get me wrong, I knew that the parents wouldn't just let them fail. But, after working with kids for years, I also know that sometimes the kids make decisions in their teenage years that alter the plan of graduation. In fact, I saw a news piece recently that stated that students in a classroom like mine are 28% more likely to drop-out because school is more challenging for them. After seeing that, I have worked HARDER than ever before to make sure they're getting their needs met academically and emotionally.

Now you can see why last night was so AMAZING to me. This student is very bright, but school is difficult for him. That being said, HE DID IT! He worked SO HARD to get the diploma. Or, in his case last night, the frame for it, the diploma comes later. *grin*

I kept saying, "I'm so proud of you." And I REALLY was proud of him.

He was glad to see me, and his parents admitted that if I hadn't been there he wouldn't have done the actual walking through the ceremony, because it was just another day to him. It was as if graduation was expected, not a "maybe" option. His incredible family had a lot to do with that mindset, in my opinion.

Afterward we all went to Applebee's and had a great time laughing and talking. It was a night I'll never forget. Something tells me he won't either. *grin*

He was a boy when I had him, now he's a young man. If you ask me, the world is going to be a better place with this new young adult in college, and eventually in the workforce. He'll be that hard worker that everyone wants to hire! *grin*


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