I suppose as a kid I never really stopped and thought about “why” my teachers had decided to become a teacher. I guess I just assumed that’s what they decided to do with their lives. Of course it wasn’t that clear in my head, but I just supposed it’s because they WANTED to be one.
When I look back on my teaching career, and I mean the one in the most literal sense, as I truly believe I have always been and will always be one who loves to share what I know with others. But as I think back on my decision to become a school teacher it not exactly a glamorous story. I wish I could say from the moment I stepped into Kindergarten I knew that I WANTED to become a teacher, but I didn’t. I had always loved kids. I had thought I would become a day care owner. Then when I got to college I started on the road to wanting to be a counselor. I WANTED to make a difference in the lives of people. I WANTED to help them. Well, that WANT didn’t carry me so well through my first psychology class. Which I failed and I was politely told I was not allowed to be in the psychology department ever again. So this started my quest to get my education degree. At first it was kind of an “I guess I’ll do this, I have no other choice.” But the longer I was taking courses and the longer I was in the school system getting my degree, the more I really felt like this was what I not only WANTED to do, it was what I was made to do.
Now I look back and know that my students probably walked into my class not having a clue “why” I had become a teacher. But I sure hope they left knowing “why”, even if they didn’t think about it. Every student in my class was special to me. I WANTED all of them to know that they were unique, that they were created for a purpose. I absolutely believed that they could do whatever I asked of them. Yes, for some it was easier than others, but I WANTED them to succeed. I WANTED them to believe in themselves. I WANTED them to have confidence.
I also WANTED them to know they were not alone in this world. Obviously most kids in my classes had parents. And for the most part, I remember my student’s parents being pretty present in their lives. I remember them helping their kids and being around. But not all kids had that support. And even when you have your parents’ support, you need to know that at least one other adult believes in you. And I WANTED each one to know that I WANTED to be that person for them.
Now at the end of the day I knew I couldn’t change, fix, keep, protect, or even probably keep up with every one of them. But the most important thing I WANTED them to know was that they are loved. They were created for a purpose. They have a Heavenly Father who loves them and WANTS nothing more than to be everything for them. He’s why I cared, He’s why I taught, He’s why I did everything I did in my classroom. He loves me unconditionally and truly has shown me that I’m WANTED. And so I hope that they know they are WANTED too!
And you might be asking “why” I am thinking about this all right now. And it’s because I found out that one of the students in my first class died last month. And I learned more about the struggles he was having and I think he wasn’t sure how to get to what he WANTED and ultimately wasn’t sure that he was WANTED. And yet, he was… by a lot of us. And it breaks my heart that he lost his battle to believe the he was WANTED and to believe that he could have what he WANTED… peace and unconditional love.
I know as teachers we aren’t supposed to have favorites. And I truly loved all of my students equally. But, just like in life, I connected with them all differently and some of them let me in more than others. Taylor was one of those kids. He let me in. He let me challenge his way of thinking. He let me call him out when he was headed in a bad direction. He allowed me to speak into his life.
He was a smart kid. Now everything did not come easy to him. He struggled to make his mind and his emotions work together for his good. But man he had the sweetest heart. He was always so helpful and wanted to please.
I’m sad that I lost touch with him. I’m sad that I couldn’t get in his face one more time and challenge the way he was thinking. I’m sad that I didn’t follow through earlier on keeping in touch with him. I'm MAD that the enemy succeeded in making him believe lies. He will always hold a special place in my heart. And it’s hard to not feel guilty, to feel like I should have done something different. But I know at the end of the day, I couldn’t change him, just like I can’t change anyone. And so I grieve and hope that deep inside he did know that he was WANTED!