I now know why I teach

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Today I said good bye to the most precious student I’ve had in my career.  This little guy came to my class two months ago.  He was from Mexico.  He didn’t read, speak English and had some issues with reading Spanish.  What worked in his favor is he had a super supportive family and he worked hard in class.

He immediately stole my heart with his polite demeanor and his will to work.  He got lots of support and help from our ESOL staff. In one month with all kinds of help he started speaking basic English, answering questions in both languages. He was a superstar. Because of his willingness to learn I started using Google Translate to relay messages to him and my other ESOL students. They all love it!

As you can see he has a handsome smile. When he walked in the room you couldn’t help but smile, laugh or both.

A few weeks ago his mom came in to tell me, with tears in her eyes that the family would be returning to Mexico in November. To say that I was heart broken isn’t the full story.  Then a few days later mom told me that everything had been moved up to October 15th. What?

Every day he walked in class he’d hug me and most of the time we’d cry.

Then this past week happened. I had kind of forgot that the day was coming until I got this text.

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This was the week! I knew that I had a workshop Wednesday, a field trip Thursday, so this would be a short week. I told him we’d have a going away party Friday. Whenever he could he’d grab my hand and walk down the hall. He’d hug me and most of the time we’d openly just cry. It got so bad that another student told me that she’d be a good student, too since I was losing Angel.  This was a special kid and I knew I wasn’t ok with losing him.

We went on a field trip Thursday. I feel sorry for the rest of my class. All I did was walk around with Angel and try to get some good pics for his mom. She wanted me to get some good memories for him.

And this wouldn’t be a story if I didn’t have one more twist. Thursday was his last day. Due to all the things his family had going on he wouldn’t be able to come to school Friday.

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There have been many a day that I wonder why I teach. If you know me off line you know I asked this question a lot. However, this past weekend I realized that this is why I teach. I teach so that I can feel alive. So that I can have authentic connections with another generation and one day know that this connection will net life change.

For the last time today Angel stopped by my class and it was hard to say good bye for the very last time. His family was beginning to make their journey south and eventually out of the country. He and I hugged for our last time When he let me go he whispered. “I love you”. This is why I teach.

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Good bye my dear friend. Many, many blessings on you and your family. Thanks for making me a better teacher

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