20 years in education – that’s half my life.
20 years in making a difference in children’s lives – I have loved and educated many!
20 years hearing Hey, Ms. Elbert! Hey Mrs. Hamilton – I have met many students.
20 years of making sure I have left some type of footprint in the hearts and minds of students – today rang true.
As I was pumping gas, I heard, “Is that you, Mrs. Hamilton? Yes, that is you!” A former student had recognized me. This was a student I actually taught who remembered I was Ms. Elbert when I was his teacher. He rememebered I taught him math. He remembered I was also his Dean and Assistant Principal before he graduated in 2004. He remembered me.
Before I could identify where the voice was coming from, he ran over to me and gave me a bear hug. He said his name and that he was happy to see me. He asked about Mrs. Deneka, his sixth grade teacher and Ms. Amraen, his principal. He wanted to know how we were doing and asked about my family. He was full of questions, happiness, and hugs.
We chatted for several minutes, I told him I had to get going. But before I left he said, “Thank you, Mrs. Hamilton. Thank you! You, Mrs. Deneka and Ms. Amraen never gave up on me. I still remember you teaching me math and telling me you will be someone. You and Ms. Amraen helped me passed my constitution test so I could graduate. Mrs. Deneka used to tutor me after school.” Wow!!! I could not believe he remembered all of that. He remembered how three people made a difference in life. It is now 2017 and he remembered all these things. Amazing!!!!! Before he darted back to his car, he informed me that he had written a paper about us. He said he kept it and would look for it and bring it to the school. As he reentered his car, he said, “Congratulations, Mrs. Hamilton, I hear you are doing big things.”
I will never, ever forget this young man. He spent many hours in my office when I was dean and assistant principal. His mother and I became very close, almost friends. Her number was memorized in my head even after he graduated. He help me started my club, Project Graduation. He was going to graduate, even if I had to become his teacher. He was going to earn at least one diploma. He was going to become a productive citizen.
This young man has reminded me how important my role is in the lives of the students who work through our doors. He showed me that they do listen. He reminded me that the words we speak are powerful and can leave a mark on our students. He reminded me of the reason I wanted to enter education – to impact the lives of all students who cross my path.