When you are a teacher, you obviously encounter many students over the years. The longer you teach, the more children you meet (obviously!).
I was in education for almost 20 years. Over those years, I found there were certain students who had a profound impact on me. They were students I connected with on a different level. When I left education, I realized these students were in my teacher bucket, so to speak.
My bucket isn’t that large. It holds maybe fifteen to twenty people. But these fifteen or so former students stay with me. These students are remembered with such fondness and these memories are what I choose to take away from my years in schools. I loved these kids. We spent hours and hours together in class and at rehearsals. I believed in them and have enjoyed watching them grow into amazing young adults, since most have now graduated from college.
Recently, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with one of my “Bucket Kids”. On a visit to my daughter in Colorado, I found out a former student would be performing close by and we were so excited it worked out for us to attend the concert.
The Middle School Years….
I had taught this student in Middle School and she had been a part of my theatre program for four years during that time as well. We had spent those turbulent pre-teen/early teen years together and I had watched her go from a very young 5th grader to a well-rounded 8th grader. This student and I had done countless shows together and I loved watching her talent blossom and grow.
Throughout her high school years, I would attend the shows she did and cheer her on. Continuing to witness her grow as a performer. When she left for college, I was excited to catch glimpses of her various performances through social media. I was always so proud of her.
Reconnecting after so many years….
To say I was excited for the opportunity to catch her live would be an understatement. In my head she is sometimes still that 13 year old girl with a mouth full of braces, belting out “Amayzing Mayzie” during Seussical. But she has grown up. She is a beautiful, well rounded, incredibly talented young woman.
I had the opportunity to speak with her mother before the performance began and we reminisced about our time together back in Middle School. Her mom said such nice things to me. I mean, you know as a teacher you have an impact on students, but I was never one to think I was that important. Nor did I ever think students would really remember me or think about anything I taught them or shared. I was very touched by what her mom said. Maybe there were a few kids I really had made a difference for.
When my former student sang her first song, I was overcome with emotion. The pride I felt listening to her beautiful voice made me want to burst. I was in awe of her talent. The tears came, as I remembered the little girl with the mouth full of braces, navigating Middle School. Now, here she was, all grown up being unbelievably fabulous! It was an honor to watch her shine on that stage and think I had played a tiny little part in getting her there.
After the performance, I got the chance to speak with her and hug her. She will never know how much she means to me. I look forward to seeing where her future takes her – I know she will succeed in whatever she chooses. And for all my years, she will forever be in my bucket and hold a place in my heart.