Monday, June 10, 2013

Pausing to Give Thanks

There are so many things in my life that I am thankful for, but there are also days when -- even though you know that you are thankful -- you just can't feel it. I may have had a few too many of those lately. I am aware of all of the blessings in my life, of the wonderful people who have crossed my path over the years, and I have become even more acutely aware of the little things (having been away from many of them for so long now). But right now, I just want to be thankful for LIFE. I may be so very alive that it hurts, but the pain and hardship is part of it all...and I have to believe that it leads to bigger and better things.

Today I learned that my high school geometry teacher took his own life. That's the news that I started my day with...the day I needed to be 100% focused on my lesson (and, of course, the day I would be observed). Death, three hours of sleep, and the profound question: how could someone who has touched so many lives value his own so little? My teachers have shaped the person and the educator that I am today, and he was one of them. I learned something from him, not about geometry (well, that too), but about life. He was a teacher who advocated for his students, who made them laugh, who rewarded correct answers with Jolly Ranchers, and who threatened to take away your chair if you didn't keep all four legs on the ground...and it wasn't just a threat.

I learned something about myself today too. I was reminded of the importance of valuing yourself and of recognizing the difference you have made in the lives of others, particularly your students. They DO remember the little things...they'll remember the Jolly Ranchers, not to lean back in their chair, and how hard you worked to explain new concepts so that they would understand. They may never know your first name, but they will know you -- the teacher, the coach, the mentor. Today I taught my last lesson with my eighth grade class; it was a lesson about superheroes. They may not remember the lesson, but if they use just one piece of knowledge that I have given them...maybe that's all it takes to touch a life.