Inspired by a Stranger

I have been an educator for 10 years now. Those who know me would say that I am a critical thinker, who loves to teach and work with kids but has little time for the bureaucratic nature of education. My passion is trying to make positive connections with them, to help them see their potential and work with them to achieve it. I have little time for sentimentality or those in the profession who ‘drink the Kool-aid’ and consistently see their vocation as being above all others in importance.

Recently I met a student, a boy I did not know before and to be honest do not know really well. In the short time I spent with him (in my role as an educator) I learned about a boy who struggles with an extremely complicated life, but also has a gentle  nature and outstanding courage. At first, I had difficulty seeing the complex puzzle that is this kid. As I talked with him I was filled with questions. How can a person be both gentle, positive, courageous, and engaged in harming behavior at the same time? How can a person seemingly be so private and reserved yet openly honest and relaxed when discussing his personal challenges, with a couple of people he does not intimately know? I have been grappling with these question for days.

Rarely am I blind sided by a student. I generally am able to break down barriers with my students and create positive relationships that set the tone for learning and sharing together in my classroom. I am one who loves my work, enjoys my school relationships but tries to keep a professional divide between my work and my home. Much of my home life is spent focusing on my wonderful wife and two great kids.

This week however I am having difficulty accepting the fact that I will not have further contact with this student (as he is not one of mine). His honesty and ability to smile when sharing such difficult information has left me shaken, amazed, humbled, confused, saddened, worried, astonished, and INSPIRED.

I am inspired by the trust he showed in us by telling us the truth.

I am inspired by the courage he has shown to make the difficult personal decisions he has made – to be true to himself. When making different decisions may have been easier.

I am inspired by the way he is not hiding from others – when many others (perhaps even myself) would relent to outside pressures.

I am inspired by him.

I hope that I get the chance to see him again, I also hope to have the courage to tell him all of these things.

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1 Comment

  1. Beautifully written. The benefit of working in a ‘people profession’ is also it’s curse. You get to know all sorts of different people. It is not often that a student surprises us truly with their strength and character. Enjoy the feeling.

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