Image Map

Sunday, June 7, 2015

YOU Made a Difference

Grade 4 Class of 2006-2007
As teachers we often wonder if we "make a difference" in the lives of our students.  (In reality and in our hearts we know that somewhere in our career, we MUST have positively impacted someone.)

But, I wonder do our students ever WONDER if they have made a difference in OUR life?  I'm not so sure they think too long about it as they progress to the next level.

Today some of my former students graduate and I'd like to share the story of why this ENTIRE class made a difference in MY life!

In July 2006 I heard those three words no one ever should hear: "You have Cancer!" I immediately thought of my young family and then started thinking about my 4th grade class.  Starting off the year was not going to be a possibility as I had to undergo some aggressive chemotherapy treatments.  The teary call made to my principal was one I'll always remember because I assured him that I WOULD BE returning as soon as my doctors gave me the okay (sometime in January or February).  

 Throughout the next few months I received countless notes and cards from "my" students. (My students: these kiddos knew me only through their siblings or through school assemblies or interactions in the hallways.) Yet they still acted as if I were their teacher! They told me about their likes, their dislikes and their goals and dreams.   On my occasional visits to the classroom (where I would receive "elbow" hugs) their faces would light up with stories of what they were learning and always, always the question "when are you coming back?" These children embraced me without really even knowing me.  Their desire for me to return to "them" is what kept me motivated, positive and above all else, STRONG!

I DID indeed return to them (cancer free!) in late February where I was given a rousing round of applause and a tee-shirt that I still have to this day!  Walking into the classroom on that first day back, to those students who had such faith in me, I felt like I had known them all along!!

Written by Kyle in Grade 5
The story doesn't end their as it never does! The following year when the students were in Grade 5 I asked them to write some acrostic poems for some Cancer Survivors for the Relay for Life.  The poems they wrote were placed inside the Survivor's Tent at the local Relay.  After reading the poems, many tear-filled survivors commented about the inspiration and the positiveness that emanated from these young students!

Over the years, these students have remained dear to my heart as I heard they participated in the School Competition of the National Geography Bee; or the Middle School play, or became volunteers at After School programs for Kids; or scored many goals for the hockey team; or helped out with the Film Festival; moved or went off to a different school! 

Because of your faith, your encouragement, your desire to have me back in the classroom, your notes and gifts - because of YOU,  I BEAT Cancer!  You have MADE A DIFFERENCE in my life and I THANK YOU as you graduate on this beautiful day! I'm sure you'll continue to make a difference in the lives of many others!
WHS Graduation June 2015
As a final note:  I know the students wrote to me, made cards, presented me with gifts through the tutelage of my substitute that year.  Nancy Farris, none of that would have happened without you!  Your inspiration and your insistence that I visit the classroom (whether I was ready or not) absolutely helped me get through that tough part of my life!  I THANK YOU as YOU continue to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in my life!

So if you know or see:  Nancy F., Rachel, Allison, Kendall, Patrick, Oscar, Nick, Kyle, Jonathan, Angela, Chris, Andie, Madison, Meagan, Megan W, Mike, Stephanie, Lucy, Ashley, Emilee, Lolita, John, Joe, Kody, Dan, or Helen please tell them how they have made a difference in YOUR life!