"What Happens in 502" — The Perks of Teaching

"What Happens in 502" — The Perks of Teaching

Occasionally, a teacher is lucky enough to find a group of students who stay with them forever.

I started teaching in 2000, and the students I’ve had with me in that time have touched me in one way or another. Some were so awful, I will never forget them and will pray I’ll never teach others like them. Some came into my classroom quiet or shy and left as totally different children. Still others went through the motions to finish the work in my class and never allowed themselves to build a relationship with their classmates or with me.

But then there are the students who will forever hold a place in my heart and who I will never, ever forget. There are students from each year sprinkled through my memory. And lucky for me, there is an actual group of students who mean more to me than I think they’ll ever truly realize.

Let me step back for a moment and provide a tiny bit of history. In 2006-2007, I was dealing with the demise of and ultimate end of my first marriage. I was teaching a group of honors level sophomores who were full of life and made me laugh daily. The next school year, this same group of sophomores became juniors, and I moved up with them to teach English III. Half of the students stayed with me for the entire school year as they then took Advanced Placement English.  It was during their junior year that my marriage actually ended, and in the fall of that year I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around.

Several of the girls noticed and left me sweet notes on my desk to tell me they loved me or were here for me if something was wrong. These were fifteen/sixteen year olds offering their love and support to a grown woman and mother. I finally pulled these girls to the side and explained what was happening. They offered help for babysitting if I needed it and left it at that.

This particular class became my home away from home. When I was sad that Miss Sassy Pants was having to spend the night with her dad for the weekend, I could count on this class to make me laugh on Friday or make me smile on Monday.

Their senior year, I was blessed to have a large number of these kids on the staff of our school newspaper. They started the school’s first weekly broadcast, and it was a hit. They made work a fun place to be and a place I looked forward to going every day.

In their short tenure at that high school, they revolutionized our journalism program, started a tradition of a male “beauty pageant,” and became the class that could convince me to dye my hair purple when they raised money for Relay for Life.

If you look closely, you’ll see my hair is purple . . .

Fast forward to now, and I’m having lunch with these kids, visiting their house for after-Thanksgiving Pie Parties, or celebrating their weddings and first babies. Some of these kids were even part of my wedding to Aaron because they truly meant that much to me. The class of 2008 will forever be an instrumental part of who I became as a teacher, as a person, and as a mom.

Now, to those of you who aren’t in the class of 2008 and who are thinking, “Wait a second, didn’t she tell us WE were her babies?” the answer is, YES. You are all my babies. I love you all. Don’t get all hurt and stuff (yes, Desere, I’m talking to you).

My classes made shirts to remember all the great times we had. This was our motto.

Are you a teacher who has a special group that means something to you? Tell me!

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