Today was a good day…

Before working at the Early College I was a teacher at Howard Adult Education Center; a school allowed high school dropouts to go back to school, recover credits, and earn a high school diploma. It was a hard job and there were hard cases. There was a rolling admission policy students would come and go and every day there were different students. We had a euphemism – “Turbulence” – for the fact that some students would come for a couple of days and then never show up again; or they would come back a few weeks later and disappear again. There were some lows…

…but there were good times too. In the three years I was at Howard we graduated about 20 students per year. I saw former gang members, prostitutes, and grandmothers walk across the stage. I had a special place in my heart for the teen moms though. Some of these girls were pregnant and some already had children and everyone, literally everyone of them, told me they were at Howard to show their kids how important getting a diploma was.

Today was a good day. I was home waiting for my wife and kids to come home when the doorbell rang. It was a Jehovah’s Witness, an older African American woman and what looked like a grandson, who comes around from time to time. The woman usually speaks with my wife but tonight I was home alone. We had a nice conversation and after I closed the door and went back to cooking dinner the doorbell rang again. I was surprised how aggressive this person was! But as I opened the door there was a completely different vibe in the air.

The woman apologized for coming back but said her daughter new me. What’s more is that she was in the back seat. I was a bit confused then the back window rolled down and it was a former student from Howard. I don’t want to use her name but when this girl came to Howard she had just delivered a baby boy. She had just dropped out for the delivery and was coming to Howard to give her boy a better life. One day, she told me that she needed to bring her son in order to nurse – she wanted to know if it was ok. 12 years ago was almost 5 years before my children and had no idea how big a deal this was. I told her that it was not a problem and more than that I wanted her to graduate. The girl graduated and, aside from one random run in at a Wal-Mart 10 years ago, I hadn’t seen her in nearly a decade.

One thing they never teach you in teacher’s college is that after the students graduate you rarely see the outcomes. But today… Today I got to see this girl again. The boy that came to my door was her son. Now a 12 year old helping his grandmother spread the good word. From the back seat she told me that she is now a nurse at the local hospital. This girl that came to our school desperate to show her son the importance of education has made a life for herself – has a good job, a healthy son, and is driving around with her mom, aunt, and son talking about God.

Some days teaching feels like a battle and we can never see above the trench.

Then some days we get to see the value of our efforts. I’m glad I opened the door today…

Today was a good day…

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