Rushing to the front of the room, up the stage, and behind the curtain, I met my third grade students as they were exiting the stage from their Christmas program. I could barely stand straight as nearly 20 kids embraced me in a monster hug. I had only been gone for a day, and they all acted like I had been gone for weeks. I felt so much abundant love. Then, grinning from ear to ear with his adorable crooked smile and his Precious Moments blonde hair bouncing as he came off the stage into the music room, one little boy beamed, “I did it for you, Mrs. Davis!” My cup of love and affirmation was now overflowing.
Rewind 33 hours and you will find this little boy sitting in the cafeteria awaiting rehearsals with his peers. I am sitting across the table expressing how excited I am to see them in the program. This little boy says, “I’m not going to be on the stage, though. I am going to be in the audience.” I simply encouraged him to do it. I simply said that I would be there watching him and that I would love to see him up there singing his heart out. I had no idea the impact that little encouragement would have.
As I found him in the midst of the other Christmas festivities, his mother continued to tell me how he hated the program in years past and how she had never seen him so engaged in the program. He was smiling as if he had just proudly defeated a fear and had a blast doing it. He truly enjoyed himself.
My job, my four years of school and thousands of dollars in debt are all worth that smile. We have fun with writing projects and reading, but education is so much more than that. I don’t teach for the money. I don’t teach for the lesson plans or the grading. I don’t even teach for the presence of kids. I teach for the kids’ lives. I teach to be a voice of love, light, and encouragement. If the smallest grain of that soaks into their heart, my job will be a success.
I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my bachelor’s degree or for a better memory as I walk the stage tomorrow.