Over the holidays, I was getting in some last-minute shopping when I heard someone call my name. I turned to see two Walker Upper School students whom I taught when they were five years old. Although I see them at school occasionally in passing, they stopped their busy holiday schedules to call me over. What a treat to stop and chat with these young men for a quite some time. I was impressed by their genuine interest in me and my holiday plans. After catching up a little, we retold some of our favorite stories from kindergarten. While walking away, I thought how proud I am of our continued relationship over the years. They will always be partly “mine” because I am so invested in their lives….and maybe surprisingly, they are somewhat invested in mine.
About two weeks later, a Walker senior whom I taught in kindergarten, appeared in our building delivering a package. We started exchanging news from our families. He said, “I have a free period right now, so I can stay and talk a little while.” He came into my office for about 15 minutes, and I found myself engaged in easy, interesting conversation…a conversation that I might have had with a colleague or peer. I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride in my “boys.”
The visits with these young men brought my thoughts back to the days when I was privileged to have those students as curious five-year-olds…when the parents and I worked together to nurture them academically, socially, and emotionally. I thought about the relationships that began 12 to 14 years ago….meaningful relationships that were established with young children that have remained over these many years. What a joy to watch these boys transition into mature, responsible young adults…young adults that are critical thinkers with theories of their own they can defend…young adults who are caring and find time to have conversations with adults who have been involved in their lives. I will be one elated educator as I, with their parents, watch these young men walk across the graduation stage and begin their next journey well prepared and supported.