I have been out of the classroom for nearly as long as I was in the classroom — I taught for six years before we had Bama and have been home with her and now them since. But I think about my students past and future and who they are and will be. Most teachers call their students their kids. "One of my kids was sick today," "You should have seen the projects my kids turned in." I have former students who are in the Marines and will be returning home this fall from their tours. I have students who are at Yale, at Smith, at UC Berkeley, at various community colleges, out of beauty school, writing software code, finding their way. The gamut.
I have students who weren't officially my students. They would wander in at lunch, at break, after school, looking for a quiet corner, a safe haven, a snack.
Jay-Marie is one of those not-my-students who inhabited my everyday. She was in my knitting club, loitered, helped younger students, and generally spread her smartness around. She is one of the smartest people I've ever met. Spooky smart, as an old friend would say.
Lucky us, we got to see Jay last summer when she was out here visiting her girlfriend, and again this year when they came East to visit lots of friends. Bama thinks Jay's pretty great.
The tree is in focus, the smalls are not, but look at his face. I don't remember what they were discussing, but it was important.
Discussing what to pack in the car for a trip to Chicago.
I love seeing Jay-Marie and the amazing grown-up* she is becoming. The obvious: she doesn't talk as fast as she used to. The less obvious: her world lens continues to shift and refine as she discovers, as we all do, who we are. She went to Stanford (Theater major, African-American minor) and USC (masters in educaiton and her credential), and hopes to teach, I hope she does, too. She is amazing with children. Amazing. Teaching is crush-your-spirit hard, but the world would be a better place if more people like Jay were teaching in it. I'm hoping she gets to combine theater and education becuase that, people, would be mind-blowing.
And, check out her hair. Awesomesauce.
When you teach, you touch lives and you are touched by lives. There is so much to being a teacher, an educator, that made it the best career I had. As I said, people who teach call their students their kids, and you never let your kids go. You watch them grow, but you don't let them go.
*Dr. Lisa Damour is Mister's cousin and we love, love, love her.