Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday's Words for May 26, 2010

Thanks to everyone who sent me “good luck” messages last week with regard to my impending classroom visit.

I had a great time on Friday! The first thing that impressed me was the high praise the teacher had for his students. I could tell immediately here was a man who respected the young people under his tutelage. I think that’s important. These students range in age from 15 to 18. They are on that cusp between adolescence and adulthood. If they perceive the respect with which they—and by definition their thoughts and ideas—are treated, then they will respond with that part of themselves that edges toward grown up status.

The students were delightful. They paid attention, asked thoughtful questions and laughed politely at my lame jokes. Who could ask for more than that?

I was nervous, of course—but not until that morning, as I was waiting to meet the teacher. But then I settled in, and from the way the teacher, sitting in the back, kept nodding as I answered question after question I think it went well.

It was strange stepping foot in that school again after so many years. Each of my children attended there, and I know there were several occasions when I had to go and meet with teachers. But the building didn’t seem at all familiar to me. Likely, since the majority of those visits were unpleasant in nature, I’ve blocked them from my memory.

This seems to be my time for going back to school. At the end of this week, I’ll have occasion to visit another High School, in another town. This one is the school I attended, and the occasion is the school’s 50th anniversary.

My beloved and I attended the 25th anniversary and that doesn’t seem, in my mind, to have been 25 years ago. In scanning the posted list of confirmed alumni returning for the festivities, I only recognized a handful of names, most of them teachers.

My beloved has a theory on this, of course. He thinks that mostly people who range from 30 to 40 years old will be the ones eager to walk down memory lane, visit the beer tent, or attend the Saturday night party. Folks our age, he assures me, really aren’t as inclined to go.

I didn’t have to wonder if that was a hint, because I knew, in a way, it was. I reminded Mr. Ashbury that I had asked him if he wanted to go, and that I only registered us because he’d said yes.

Again, the event that holds the most appeal to me is an alumni/student assembly that will kick off the celebrations. Some former students who have achieved success will speak to the student body, and then there will be mentoring sessions. These sessions will group students and alumni together for the purposes of mentoring, encouraging today’s student to dare to set goals—to, if you’ll pardon the cliché, reach for the stars.

While I won’t be speaking on stage, I will attend the mentoring sessions. I think it’s important for young people to understand how vital it is to have a dream. They need to know that even if so much seems to be against them, they can change their lives if they want to. I am, as you know, a great believer in empowerment.

I believe in people reaching out and making things happen for themselves, rather than sitting and waiting for someone to hand them something.

And I’m going to take the opportunity to listen, as well. This is a different world than the one I grew up in, and I think today’s student can teach me more than a thing or two.


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