As regular readers of my blog know, I was a school teacher for over 30 years. I taught high school chemistry. (Yes, everyone’s favorite subject!) The students I had in class were mostly juniors and sophomores.
By the time the end of the year rolled around, we knew each other pretty well, my students and I. Our relationship had developed over nine months of laughter, tears, frustration, elation, and triumph. And I’m sure the students had some feelings about those nine months too!
We spent many long hours after school working on science fair projects and lab reports. We came in early, sometimes when it was still dark outside, to practice for competitions. We even showed up during our Christmas break to work on projects that had a looming deadline. The one fact that I stressed to my students was that we were in this learning process together, and we were going to get it done!
There is no wonder then, that I was asked to sign many students’ yearbooks at the end of each school year. I didn’t want to sign the generic “I enjoyed having you in class.” I wanted something inspirational, uplifting, powerful. I sought out quotes.
I tried out a few, but they always came across as preachy, something a teacher would say. I wanted something unique and special like each student was to me. A quote which was originally (erroneously) attributed to Nelson Mandela, later correctly identified as Marianne Williamson, seemed perfect, exactly what I wanted to tell each child.
My entries in students’ yearbooks usually consisted of a portion of the following quote and one unique, personal observation about the student; something that I liked or admired about that boy or girl. My deepest hope is that those students are now allowing their own light to shine brightly in a world that can sometimes be dark.