I believe that each of us has a specific role to play in life, and when we stray from that path, a person, a circumstance, or an event will lead us back. My reminder came in the shape of a former student one gorgeous spring day. You see, I am a teacher and have been for the past 25 years. I began my calling as an educator of children with special needs. I didn’t intend to take that path, but a shortage of job opportunities for Speech Pathologists and fate, let me into the field of education. I met Nat when he was referred to my classroom because of his oppositional behavior in his own fourth grade class. He was an angry, sensitive boy who loved to test the limits of my patience and all who worked with him. He and I, including the dedicated staff who worked with me, spent the next two years together with the goal of having Nat reenter mainstream classes by the time he started middle school. The next two school years were filled with hard work on his part, both academically and emotionally. Occasionally our classroom resonated with the sound of his angry words, but most often with the sound of laughter. Trust was built and with it came a strong bond of caring and belief. We knew that this student would succeed in whatever he chose to do. I was especially proud when Nat no longer needed a classroom setting such as mine when he moved on to middle school. The years passed, and I would often see him at high school hockey games as my son was the goalie for my town’s high school, which was Nat’s rival. We would wave to each other and joke about which team would win. He had a wicked sense of humor! The year Nat left my classroom; I had transferred over and become a general education teacher. I now had a classroom filled with many types of children, and welcomed the chance to try something new. On that gorgeous spring day, Nat, now a mature teenager appeared at my classroom door. He had that same impish grin I remembered from 4th grade. I was in the middle of teaching a Social Studies lesson to my 24 restless children, who welcomed the interruption! He had come to tell me and my astonished nine year olds that I was one of the best teachers he had ever had and that without me, he would never have accomplished what he had. As I turned to look at my class, captivated by Nat’s presence, he said, “You better appreciate your teacher, and listen to everything she says!” Because of that day, I returned to my original calling as a teacher of children with special needs. Thank you for the reminder Nat.
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