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Another school year is in full swing and I am blessed to have a sweet group of kids. It is a mixed group of cultures, and I love that!
A teacher friend posted an article on social media and now I would like to share it. I was granted permission by the author – Sarah Tiller – to share her writing.
“When I was in third grade, in the middle of winter, a fellow classmate came to class dressed in a tank top, shorts, and the same dirty tennis shoes he wore everyday. The boy’s name was Brandon. He was very skinny, had dark circles under his eyes, very thin hair, and was on the lower end of the curve in class. I think about day often. I wore a purple, puffy coat, long sleeve shirt and long jeans that I argued about wearing with my mom that morning. I walked from my mom’s warm mini-van into the school. Brandon (I didn’t fully realize it then) stood outside waiting on his bus. He then rode a cold bus to school and walked in the same doors as me. All the while, he was wearing his power-rangers tank top and shorts.”
“Our teacher was in horror when he walked in. She wrapped him in a blanket and had him sit in front of her space heater she was using to warm the room. Shortly after he got hot chocolate and was called into the office. I remember my teacher telling the class about how Brandon was very cold, and that he would be getting special treatment and none of us were to say anything about it. Though I never asked him, my teacher, or (later) my parents, I wondered why he got hot chocolate. After all, we were all cold, weren’t we? I do remember that when he came back from the office he was wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, holding his previous clothes in a Walmart bag. We were all trying not to stare at him as he walked his bag to his locker. As an adult, I weep every time I remember this image.”
The author often thinks about Brandon, where he is, and did he ever know love. “I wonder if he ever understood gratitude for our teacher caring for him that day and applied that encouragement to the rest of his life. I wonder what he remembered about me.”
Many people responded with stories of their own. Some of them shared stories of classmates like Brandon. For example, one woman gave her new coat away to a shivering classmate at recess and when the woman’s mother found out (even though they did not have much money either) she was very proud. Another gave away a hoodie to a younger shivering student waiting at the bus stop and never asked for it back.
Others were teachers, like myself, who shared heartfelt stories of personal experiences with students like Brandon. Teachers shared how they bought new shoes, warm clothes, jackets, toothbrushes, toothpaste, provided wash cloths and soap, bought breakfast, paid for lunches and provided snacks. They kept a watchful eye and made sure these students felt loved even if it was just for the hours they were in their classroom.
Still others were “the Brandon” in the story. One person shared that she and her siblings wore dirty clothes that were always too big or too small. Her parents always had parties so she seldom had a good nights rest. They were always hungry, always cold, and never clean. She weighed 56 pounds in the sixth grade. She was teased and laughed at by her peers. As an adult she now has a donate clothing closet for middle school girls and also makes care packages.
Did you know Brandon?
As I start this new year, I offer a prayer for all the Brandon’s in the classrooms across our country who are starting a new school year. May they be blessed with the love and support of a good teacher, and the kindness of their peers.
Such an inspiring read to start off this upcoming school year. I will most certainly try my best to be His hands and feet.
I’ve heard it said in various ways, “They have taken God out of the classroom.” I’ve even been asked, “How can you work in a public school when you can’t share your faith with the kids?” I’ve watched teachers walk away from public education with great frustration because of politics, evaluation systems, state standards, pay, and lack of support.
If I am being honest, there are days in which I ask, “Why am I still here?”
Yet, every time I ask myself that question, I hear a soft whisper in my soul… “Because I am here.”
God is in your classroom.
From the depths of my soul, I believe that God has never, can never, and will never be removed from the classroom–even a public school classroom. One, He is bigger than that. Besides the fact that He is omnipresent , He is the “indwelling spirit” that fills you…
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I was cleaning out some boxes I had packed away, and ran across some old photos which made me feel nostalgic for my children’s younger years.
Seeing photos of cub scout outings, little league games, recitals, birthday parties, vacations, and Christmas mornings I found myself longing for when my children were little.
In spite of a couple of teary eyed moments, there was a constant smile on my face and I often laughed out loud as I gazed at picture after picture. I could not help but think to myself that once upon a time I was involved in my children’s day-to-day life, and I was also the center of their universe. After I carefully placed the scattered photos back into the box I began to reflect on what I miss most about those days.
Tucking my children into bed, snuggling, reading and having long conversations. When they were little, I would often lay with them as they began to drift off to sleep during nap time or bedtime. I would gaze at their faces and sometimes I would trace their features with my eyes, brush my hand against their cheek and sometimes they would twitch or let out a soft sigh as they snuggled closer to me. I was so in love. When they got a little older we might have discussions about the day or life in general and sometimes I would rub a back or pull eyebrows (my oldest son loved for me to do this – still does). I miss the intimacy of those quiet conversations. I loved reading to them and fiction stories with pictures on each page were the order of the evening when they were young and eventually became chapter books as they got a little older. I would play “good brother, bad brother” with my hands as puppets which always ended the evening with giggles. My youngest son would suck his two middle fingers and would occasionally pull them out of his mouth and use them to point to interesting pictures in the story. When I close my eyes I can still hear him slurping as I read stories to him at bedtime. If I was tired and wanted to get the story read quickly I would try to skip a page or two or shorten the dialogue, but my daughter always called me on it.
I miss going to bed at night knowing that all my children are safe and sound in their own beds under one roof.
All of the “firsts” – First word, first step, first day of school. I remember all of the “firsts” with my children filled me with such joy and excitement. The way my heart beat quicker when they each said “mum ma” for the first time. The way their little legs wobbled as they took their first steps while their faces shined with sweet smiles as they toddled into my open arms. I will always remember when I dropped my daughter off for her first day of Kindergarten. The children did not go directly to a classroom, but assembled outside on the playground. Parents had been instructed to not walk their children into the building. I drove my car around to the back of the school and parked off to one side so I could see my daughter as she was escorted to the playground. At first she stood alone for a few minutes looking so little and bewildered as she watched the other children playing. My heart was breaking and I wanted to put my arms around her and take her back home with me. (I still get teary eyed when I think of that moment.) About that time two little girls went running over to her and the next thing I knew she took off running with them. All day long I thought of her and hoped she was comfortable and content. She was all smiles when I picked her up later that day.
I enjoy their adult “firsts” ~ first baby, first apartment, first job…but these firsts now include other people and this is a very, very good thing, but those days when it was just us are so very special.
The noise ~ the sound of their voices ~ their presence. I miss their laughter, the impromptu conversations, the sound of their footsteps entering the kitchen or rumbling up and down the stairs. They did not always make a joyful noise, they did their fair share of bickering, crying, and back talk. But I do miss knowing they were in the other room watching tv, upstairs lost in their own private world of their bedrooms, in the basement playing ping pong, or outside riding bikes with neighborhood friends. I miss being able to talk to them almost anytime I wanted. Car rides to ballgames, swim meets, tennis matches, scout meetings, and school events were opportunities to catch up or just enjoy the comfortable quiet of being together with someone you love.
I remember longing for the sound of quiet and now, some days, the silence can be deafening. I miss the noise.
Serving pancakes in different colors or shapes for breakfast, giggles in the dark, Mother’s Day morning surprises, vacations, sweet kisses, warm hugs, wiping tears, bandaging boo boos ~ I could go on…and on…and on…and on.
And suddenly they’re grown.
Here is my entry for Cee’s photo challenge: “happy”
I turned right after the red light turned green behind a line of cars. All of the cars ahead of me were traveling at or just below the speed limit and were keeping safe distances between each other. The road is two lanes with several areas containing orange construction barrels (the county is currently widening the bridges over the lake and will eventually widen the lanes), 55 mph speed limit, and is known for deer crossing. It has become a main thoroughfare, a stretch of 36 miles, and sometimes 18 wheelers use it as a crossover to avoid big city traffic congestion so safe driving requires full attention.
As I glanced in my rear-view mirror I noticed this guy in a white pick up truck gradually pull up behind me and stayed on my tail for a good eight miles. I could barely see his headlights he was following me so closely.
As we traveled down the road I kept glancing in my rear-view mirror at him which caused me to begin to neglect my duties of being a responsible driver. I began to feel stressed and agitated so my hands would grip the steering wheel tighter. I kept imagining him running into the back of my car if I had to stop suddenly.
I decided to try to tune him out and keep my focus on the road ahead and off of my discomfort of having him follow me so closely. Even though I could not help but glance back another time or two, I did begin feel more relaxed and in better control of the situation. As soon as we all merged onto the freeway entrance ramp he zoomed past all of us and quickly became someone else’s problem.
This whole incident made me consider the way I am prone to think when I have something troubling on my mind. I tend to keep looking in my “rear view mirror” at the things I cannot really change or control. I let the stress and concern get to me and it causes me to tighten my grip ~ similar to how I felt with my morning tail-gating experience.
Glancing in my rearview mirror is all part of being a good driver, but if it is done too much or too often, sooner or later there is going to be an accident. I need to shift my focus to the windshield and keep my mind on my destination instead of what is behind me.
Keep your focus in the direction of your destination and only glance at the past as necessary to stay aware of where you have been. – Pearl Zhu
*Side note: There is not much traffic on this particular road so I was able to stop to take this photo.
Personal Reflection: Do I look at my rear view mirror too often?
I am so proud and happy to introduce my newest grandson. The photos pretty much speak for how blessed and happy we are to welcome this newest bundle of love to our family.
“You have filled my heart with greater joy” Psalm 4:7
“Every good and perfect gift is from above” James 1:17