Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Changing A Life


Nay wasn't the world's worst student, but he was a far from a good one.  Yet, I saw through his immaturity and knew there was something great inside of him.  I told this to his mom as she sat crying in the guidance office listening to the counselor saying one bad thing after another about her only son. I don't remember what I said, and I know I did not lie, but her tears stopped and she smiled.  I somehow managed to give her hope.

I just got an e-mail from Nay.  He is working and going to school for an MBA.  He is doing great and his mom is proud.  He said it was the college recommendation I wrote that turned him around.  I wrote hundreds of letters and can't remember what I wrote in each but I know ones for kids like Nay took a lot of effort.  I refused to lie or even exaggerate the truth so I spent a long time delving into his character and wrote down where strengths and possibilities.

I never gave those letters a second thought after I sent them out but I now know if one affected Nay so strongly, others must have been affected too.

My AP did not think much of me as a teacher.  He still makes disparaging comments about me, mostly to a staff of newbies who have no idea who I am, but that doesn't matter.  The kids were the one I worked for. Their words are the words that mean something.  Their success and my part in it is all that counts. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really, did the guidance counselor have anything else to say?? So, you as the teacher were the only one who knew what to do or say?? The guidance counselor who is trained for this specifically had nothing to say but negative?? Really?? I guess this is why hardly anyone reads this post or for that matter posts anything on this bizarre site. You sound like some delusional retiree who screams that you were the know it all and everyone else is a bagger

Pissed Off said...

First, you have no idea who reads this blog. You obviously do or you wouldn''t have made that stupid, juvenile comment. And, I am will to bet you will be back to see your comment published. Second, I don't write this blog for you or anyone else. I write it for myself and was feeling pretty good about the e-mail I got. And, last but not least, after teaching for 30+ years I and others in my shoes know a hell of a lot more than a teenie bopper guidance counselor just out of college who never stepped foot in a classroom, a counselor who spends his or her days surfing the Internet and Facebook and never leaves the office. Classes in guidance don't give you people experience.

The guidance counselor I am referring to had a lot more on the ball than you. He thanked me for coming in and helping him with the distraught parent, giving her classroom teacher help that he was too new and too inexperienced to offer.

The difference between you and people my age is that we respected experienced teachers when we started and we learned from them. We knew we didn't know it all and we know we will always have things to learn. You think you know it all. I feel sorry for the children entrusted to you.

Bronx ATR said...

I love your blog. There's an old African saying "teachers get their thanks in heaven". Most of us never know how we have affected our students lives. When you do, even from one student, it validates us and our profession. Great blog.

Anonymous said...

pissed off,
sorry if i offended you. first off i am not a guidance counselor nor am i a teenie bopper... i have been in the system for many years however my gripe with you on the blog was that you sort of made the counselor look bad in that the counselor was only saying negative things about the student and so many times teachers state that they are the only ones saying the right or positive things. I am happy that the student emailed you with the success story but remember its a team game

dkzody said...

As an aside, I love your blog.

Now, on to this post at hand--I've written many of those letters, too, never knowing if they get anyone anywhere; however, I have had students return, years later, to get another letter for graduate school or a job. They seemed to have done the trick the first time around so they want another go at it!