10 May 2011

A reminder that we get it right sometimes

Last night I received an enormous honor.

No, it wasn't an Oscar, or a Tony. No one nominated me for a Grammy or Emmy, either (Someday, I will EGOT, someday.....). I didn't get a pay raise, a crystal apple, or a "teacher of the year" plaque.

Nope, last night, I was invited to dinner. Well, not dinner so much as dessert.

You're probably thinking that getting invited to dessert isn't that big of an honor. I'll go ahead and say that what you're thinking is, in this case at least, wrong. Admittedly, dinner dessert probably isn't that big of a deal. However, in this case it was a special dinner.

You're thinking that this was a dinner for excellence in education blogging. Nope. Perhaps a city-wide night honoring contributions to online non-sense? Still wrong. In fact, it was an honor to get invited to dinner because the dinner wasn't designed to honor me at all.

The dinner in question is presented every year by our local "education foundation", which is a non-profit designed to support students and teachers. Every year for the last decade, they've sponsored a "3.75 dinner" for those seniors who have maintained a cumulative 3.75 GPA throughout high school (cleverly named, no?). These kids are academically the best and the brightest we have to offer to the world.

As part of the dinner, each student is asked to bring one special guest who has impacted their lives and educations. The student and their special guest both receive a nice embossed certificate. I was asked to be a special guest. That is the honor I received last night, and I count it among the most prestigious in my career. A student who I have had in class for four years stood in front of her parents and peers, and told them that I made her a better student and a better person.

I watched her peers do the same for their parents and my education colleagues. I've been to this dinner before, but never for kids who've I known as long as this bunch. This dinner was powerful stuff. Kids had wonderful things to say about their honored guests. One honored her younger brother and scores honored their parents. They spoke frankly about people who pushed and encouraged them to go beyond what they thought they could do.

This kind of event is rare for a teacher. We spend so much of our time dealing with the other end of the spectrum. Angry parents, paperwork, failing students; they fill our days (and depending on how vividly we dream, our nights as well). But on an evening like the 3.75 dinner, we get to see the fruit of our labors. These were bright, kind, amazing young people, and they were willing to say that we had a hand in making that.

They were a reminder that we're not so bad at this education thing after all. They were a reminder that teachers who care and work hard exist everywhere. They were a reminder that those hours and hours of grading and planning worked out, and produced wonderful young people. They were a reminder that for every Michelle Rhee screaming for reform, there is a room with 10% of a senior class somewhere, honoring their teachers. And that, my friends, is better that a trophy any day.

No comments:

Post a Comment