A view from my side.
T’is the season. The Graduation season, that is. I’ve been in education, either public or private, since 1991. I have taught Grades 1-3 and 6-12. At the end of every year, most of the kids “graduate” to the next level. From 1st grade to 2nd. From Middle School to High School. From High School to College for many. For others, on to what we all euphemistically call The Real World.
I remember my own “graduations”. I was so excited to leave the 6th grade and to be moving on to Intermediate School. I was going to be a big bad 7th grader the next year. Another step toward manhood. Another leap forward in my life. And then I got there. Too stupid to be intimidated by the size of the school or the size of the 8th graders. Too excited to be worried about all the homework and responsibility heaped on my shoulders now that I was a teenager. Reality hit me in the face, but as always, I adapted, adjusted and assimilated into the new culture.
Attending high school graduations is always a joyous occasion for me. Watching students I’ve known and taught grow from awkward, spindly 9th graders to the young men and women they become is a gift that most of the world doesn’t receive. I understand that parents get to watch their own children and their friends grow up, but high school teachers have a different perspective.
I’ve watched them grow. I’ve watched them struggle. I’ve watched them fail miserably. I’ve watched them achieve greatness. I’ve watched some go on to very prestigious colleges and universities. I’ve seen others joining the ranks of the military. I’ve seen some going into the family business, while others find employment in other areas. I’ve even had the horrible misfortune to attend funerals of those taken too early, before their time, for reasons no one can fathom.
I’ve touched the lives of thousands of young men and women over the years. I’d like to think I’ve left a positive influence in each and every one of them. I know I always enjoy seeing them when they return, years later, when their university is on break and we are still in session. The alums will come back to school, pop in on a class and sit there smiling, remembering similar discussions from when they sat there as students. Often times they will stand up and affirm the knowledge being passed on. “You should listen to him”, they’ll say. “I remember thinking “no way” when he said that, but I found out differently after I graduated!” What better compliment could a teacher get than a former student saying something like that. A lesson learned and taken to heart.
Later, after they’ve graduated from college and/or moved on in their lives, I’ll hear from or about them as they engage the world on their own. The marriages, the children, the new jobs and new towns and new beginnings. This year, 2013, is seeing a very special group of students/players I was involved with making such new transitions. I’ve received notices of several marriages and several pregnancies. New and exciting jobs coupled with the youthful expectations of success. It’s refreshing and invigorating for me. It rejuvenates me and gives me hope. It’s one of the main reasons I do what I do.
So to all those walking across the stage this year…Happy Graduation Season.