Friday, April 30, 2010

They'll Always Be My Kids

I read a story about a former 5th grade teacher from Newport Beach, Ca. Her former students from 1966 are throwing a party for her.
She states, "They'll always be my kids."

I'm in the process of finding my sixth grade students from 1989-90, when I taught in Anaheim, Ca. I reunited with one in person last year. For three hours she and I reminisced about our lives then and discussed our lives now. She's married with two children. We had a thoroughly adult conversation until the man next to us at the coffee shop asked how we knew each other.
"She's my sixth grade teacher." (Yes, I'm almost positive she used the present tense.)

Immediately I felt how much I've carried my students in my heart for 20 years. They're my kids. Still. I put a protective arm around her and gave her a hug before I asked the man to take our picture.

My friend Jeff used to make fun of me when I spoke of my students. I'd say, "Oh, my kids and I discussed that in class." Jeff would reply, "Your kids. You sound like Jerry Lewis with his kids." I'd insist, "But they ARE my kids". Now, I'm sure Jerry cares about his kids, but I knew more about my kids, by watching them grow for seven hours a day, five days a week for a school year.

So far I've found three of my students from that year. Only 29 more to go.
You can read the story here.