Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Graduates

The Class of 2008
My first class of fourth graders in 1999-2000

In the fall of 1991, I started my third or fourth and final career (?) by going back to Michigan State University as a non-traditional student at the age of 36. I, at long last, went back to what I started in 1973 at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh: becoming a teacher. I had the good fortune to do my student teaching in 1998-99 at a wonderful school which actually hired me for the following year. Another good fortune that year was getting the incredible group of students pictured above. We had a little too much fun that year!

The boy standing directly in front of me was the class leader. He still is a great leader. When he was in my class he injured his ear and had stitches. This required a large, globby, white bandage to be placed on his ear, and by the end of the week half of the boys had some sort of bandage on their ears!

Now I am going to their graduation parties. Seeing young faces turning into adults. Remembering names, moms, dads, siblings, stories. What fun! What a nice re-connection. I feel refreshed this evening. Filled up by the past which has come to the present.

At the second graduation party, Megan, the graduate, mentioned that one of my present students lives directly behind her and that he wants to come to the party when I arrive. He came and the three of us stood together talking about school and comparing 1999 to 2008. Oh the things we remember! Megan remembered that she told me on the first day that she hated math and that I told her it would be her favorite subject by the end of the year. She is attending the University of Michigan this fall and will major in engineering. I think it's in her genes, as her two brothers are both at U of M, one becoming a medical doctor and the other getting a PhD in mechanical engineering.

What a nice look back today was.

38 comments:

Loring Wirbel said...

Class of '08!! Last Saturday was the record, Carol and I went to seven receptions in one day. The valedictorian in my daughter's class, Akshay Budiga, was the guy who won the international spelling bee six years ago and fainted as he was spelling the winning word. It got him a gig on Oprah and a mention on Gray's Anatomy -- so if he maps the human proteome or something later in life, it's all just icing on the cake after Oprah.

Ruth said...

I remember your stories from this class more than any of the ones since. It's incredible to me the impact a teacher can have on the long term life of a student, for what seems like just a blip of their lives. All of us have an impact on the young people in our lives, actually, and that's a sobering thought!

Which girl was it who said you'd be really popular if you were younger?

Don said...

Loring: Seven in one day?! That sounds like that old story, "Seven with one blow." Ruth and I saw the fainting young man on TV just last night! Whichever channel broadcasts the bee was advertising it and had a collage of interesting video clips and that was one of them. Your daughter must be feeling both free and a little bit afraid, as now she is at adulthood's doorstep.

Ruth: It is sobering to think that we do influence those around us in ways we intend and do not intend. Hopefully most of it is positive and enlightening!

Catherine, the first girl on my left is the one that said that. It took me a while to figure out what she meant and even so, I'm not sure!

Sandy said...

Don, you sound like a great teacher and what evidence through the girl in college who hated math,now majoring in engineering.

Kudos to a guy who knows what teaching is all about.

Don said...

Thank you for your nice words Sandy, but I think that girl had it in herself and just needed a little tug to find it.

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Kudos to you for being part of those kids' successful educations. It must provide such a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. I admire teachers and have to applaud anyone who can do what you do.

I still remember my algebra teacher. I had him for two years. He was the teacher who made me love math. He challenged us and made us feel like we could do it, no matter how tough the subject material.

For all you do, thank you Don!

Don said...

Amy: Thank you! I love the smell of chalk dust in the morning.
(The only chalk I have is for making marble rings on the carpet for our marble tournament)

Farm Chick Paula said...

That is so neat, Don! How wonderful that will be to see all those kids again! (who aren't kids anymore!)

Don said...

Paula: It is nice to see former students. Some of them have been eating their Wheaties!

Chicken J said...

I like those white chucks.
I like those brown chucks.
I like those black chucks.
I like those red chucks.
I like those fat chucks.
I like those thin chucks.
I like all the different kind of chucky chucks.
you've got all the chucks,you've got all the chucks......... Just thought i would say hello from rainy England,Chicken J.... OUT

Stiggy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stiggy said...

How great it is to see young people grow into something worth while Don...

...you know, teachers have more of an impact than they actually think - I remember both the good the bad and the ugly at my schools...

...funny - the one I liked, I did well in their class...

...funny that eh?

Great post today Don, and congratulations on helping those kids to grow!

Chicken J said...

Thought you would like a bit of english humor Don, you did'nt have to delete my comment.... Chicken j .....out

Don said...

Chicken J: Love your Chucks song! I'm trying to find a tune that captures your and my love for dem chucks. Anyone have any ideas? It probably should be an old bar tune or something, (like half of our church hymns!)

Hey! I didn't delete any of your comments! I'm sorry if you thought I did. It looks like you may have deleted a comment as there is a deleted comment up there that says: "This post has been removed by the author."

BTW, you can send some of that rain to dry mid-Michigan. It's supposed to rain here today, but that is always "iffy."

Don said...

Stiggy: I agree about teachers and doing well in certain classes. I'm sure we all can remember those that we wanted to work for/with and those that we could have done without. I have two teachers that stand out for me and they both taught Spanish! One I loved (literally!) and received high marks, the other whom I despised (it was mutual) and I actually dropped out of her class!

Anyone else have good, bad or ugly teacher stories?

Thanks Stiggy!

Bob Johnson said...

I had a teacher like you,he taught math and PE, learned a lot from him, he really cared and it came across to the students and they wanted to learn from him, good job Don.

Chicken J said...

you may be right about me deleting my own comments Don,finger trouble on the mouse,the suns come out here again hope you have the rain clouds we had ,thanks for your comment on the chuck blog, i seem to have blog writers block just now.you seem to know a lot of people and get lots of comments,the barns looking good aswell, T T F N... Chicken J

Don said...

Bob: I think we are all alike in that we like people who like us!

Chicken j: I'm glad you came back to check! If you wrote some British Humor and then deleted it, I think you need to recreate it! You know, Benny Hill, etc.

Country Girl said...

Teachers are special people! It is amazing how many lives you impact.

Don said...

Country Girl: Nurses are right at the top of everyone's list!

Chicken farmers are up there too!

SwedeHart said...

That is very touching, and seems like the big payoff. Did they all make it to graduation?

laura said...

Don: what a great post. It gives one hope! I forget what blog it was (I'll let you know if I remember!) but there was a photo a street sign "Hope Street" and the blogger asked, what would be on hope street? After several days, seriously!, thinking of it, I couldn't come up with an answer! Now I have one! The class of 2008, surely, but also their teacher! Hurrah for Don!
p.s. Re wearing ostrich feathers to school: just try to stop me! For a shy kid I was adamant about my bizarre wardrobe.

laura said...

I am lucky enough to have several good excellent teacher stories--from 2nd grade all the way to grad school. Here's one from HS: I transferred to a new school in sophmore year and signed up for art. There were all grades in the class and some really excellent artists--two of whom got full scholarships to the Philadelphia School of Art. After less than two weeks in class, I was intimidated and asked the teacher, Mr. Weeks, to sign me out so I could transfer to another elective. He wouldn't sign.

Mrs. M. said...

Wouldn't it be fun to recreate this picture with this year's graduates? I didn't realize your first class was the same as Emma's!

Stiggy said...

ROFL!

That deleted post was mine Don/J....

..I thought since I was writing on a teachers blog that I should write proper sentences...

... otherwise I'd be asking for one to one lessons over the net!

;)

Ginnie said...

I love it, Don! The circles come back to meet the older we get. I love the influence you have on the lives of these young children. I can't imagine the joy of having a teacher like you...even on your worst days, if you even have them!!!

Don said...

swedehart: Hey! I haven't seen you around for a while! Yes, they did all make it to graduation and ALL of them are going on to college or university!

Laura: You are so right that graduation is a symbol for Hope. Not just for each individual, with their dreams and aspirations, but also for our society as we get to reflect on what we are doing and where we are going!

That art teacher sure had an innate understanding of what you needed at that time. Mr. Weeks stands strong!

Don said...

Mrs. M: That's funny that you mentioned the picture! They actually do that each year at the high school. The "camera club" has all the students from the six elementaries get out of class for a photo op. I am trying to get my hands on one. Emma would have loved this group of kids and would have fit right in!

Don said...

Stiggy: That's hilarious!
I doubt if a yankee can effectively give a Brit a decent English grammar lesson!

Don said...

Ginnie: HA! I have been crabby lately. It must be having three days of school left and being ready to hang out with the hens!

Gwen Buchanan said...

This must make you feel a deep satisfaction, Don on a job well done!!

They were so lucky to have an caring instructor in their lives... We always remember fondly the ones that had an impact on us, inspired us and encouraged us to see what we were made of and you are one of them!

Stiggy said...

Obviously you haven't met or spoken to any of our youth at the moment!

;)

Stiggy said...

By the way Don - were you aware that you've linked to my profile and not my blog?

:D

Don said...

Gwen: I enjoy seeing former students and hearing how they are doing and what their plans are.

I wonder what the factors are that make us memorable to those we come into contact with? Time? Focus? Smiles?

Don said...

Stiggy: I guess I view the English as the best of "Word Users." Music: Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Moody Blues, Cold Play, etc. Literature: Shakespeare, Tennyson, Blake, Austen, Chaucer, Brontes, etc. Your youth is probably similar to ours in that they think it's cool to speak poorly, (not all of them!).

Thanks for the heads-up on the link.

Stiggy said...

To be honest Don, our youth don't seem to be our youth anymore - all the other influences on this small Isle have taken their toll, and with the influx of all the different cultures comes different ways of speaking...

... I personally love the English language and try to use 'good' words, rather than hoping that people understand my meaningless muttering.

I 'borrowed' the complete works of Shakespear off my sister when I was about 14 - mainly because I wanted to impress girls with the old favourites Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet.

;)

Don said...

Stiggy: I'm afraid that this global economy is selling more than capital goods. I prefer children to mimic their own culture, not the one that is the loudest. I think America is importing and using too much oil and junk, and exporting too much cultural destruction. I think the days of cultural heritage has moved beyond the village, and is becoming a global melting pot. Maybe it will swing like a pendulum.

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