Sunday, October 29, 2006

"It Was Magical"

Sometimes, we don't realize that we live in a world where magical things really are all around us if we just look for them.

Back in the middle school, I taught seven classes daily. Each class averaged 30 students or more. I had my share of students who chose not to do much, or even any, work, but for the most part, I really didn't have all that much trouble with discipline. I found that laughter really can be a miracle worker, and a little ignorning of minor things went a long way. For major things, I came down so hard that most kids didn't care for a repeat performance.

I was exhausted most of the time.

I found something to love in every class, but once in a while. . . . once in a while there was a class that I loved so much, I have after all these years not forgotten a single detail, or face, or name. For these wondrous groups of personalities, I can close my eyes and see each precious face, in his or her assigned seat, laughing or bent over writing, watching a video or taking notes or whispering to a neighbor (shhhh, other people are working, and it might be you next time. . . .) or even weeping in empathy when our lessons were heart-warming. For years, I thought that the students just took for granted that some classrooms were both cool and warm-hearted: a blend of temperatures that averaged into a comfort zone where each pre-teen could relax, knowing that for forty-five minutes a day, at least, everyone was 'safe.'

There are several of these 'special' years in my memory.

One such year was 1996. That year, period one was the 'memorable' class. They got off the bus and hurried to my room; they didn't want to miss a thing. (cue Steven Tyler. . . .) We started the very second the bell rang. We worked (even when the kids didn't realize they were working) right up until the next bell. Period Two was quite the opposite, and this probably made me appreciate Period One even more. I cried when the year was over and they all came to say 'goodbye.'

That next autumn, I saw one of those Period One students in WalMart. Some students are far too cool to come up to a teacher and start a conversation, but this was a Period One student, and his enthusiasm for life extended far beyond my classroom. He was just an outgoing, enthusiastic, well-mannered young man in all aspects of life. Tall, and funny, very good at writing and speaking, he had a sweetness about him that was hard to describe.

I asked him how he liked high school. His reply is something I will always remember.

"It's okay, but there will never be another class like our Period One class last year. "

"Why is that?" I asked him.

"It was magical. We all thought so." he replied.

I went home and cried some more.

I've been remembering Period One, and this student, all weekend.

His brakes failed, Friday night, and to avoid hitting someone else, he steered his car off the road. He hit a tree, and he was killed instantly. He was 22 years old.

And, as usual, I cried.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:49 PM | |


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