17 April 2010
And in that moment, I swear we were infinite
I can't explain how incredible it is to watch a student reach his potential right in front of you. Today one of my darlings starred in the school musical, earned a standing ovation, and still shuffled backstage to accept his hug from me while mumbling that he messed up his final lines. Students like this one both warm and break my heart: his growth is impressive to observe, and yet I doubt he realizes how wonderful he is. This is the type of kid who always says hello to me in the halls and welcomes me with a genuine smile. He spends hours trying to improve his schoolwork, never complaining about the fact that many others earn stellar grades while giving only a cursory glance at the material. Never seeking to boost his own pride while denigrating others', he offers kind words to every student and is an approachable presence, even to the youngest students. He has also taken an impressive risk here: this is the first time he's sung in public, and some of his more boorish friends don't exactly consider musical theater to be something worthy of their praise. Instead, he risks mockery, something that in high school (or even later) can be devastating. If I could write this student a letter that he could take out and look at every time he doubted his gifts, I would assure him that he is one of the lucky ones-- he has what so many people lack, a balance of empathy, charisma, humor, intellect, sensitivity, and sheer originality. From the beginning of the year to now, he has already pushed himself to such an impressive degree that even though I don't teach him, I just look at him and want him to know this:
If every one of my darlings could realize his or her infinite wonder...then my life would be one step closer to being complete.