What do you do when your dreams don’t come true? What are you supposed to feel when everything you imagined your life to be slips right out of your finger tips on a cold June afternoon? What direction and new goals are supposed to be set when you think you had it figured out but it doesn’t work out right? What do you do when the sadness and tears and lost dreams overwhelm your heart?
To answer any of those questions right now is impossible for me. I just think about those questions and I keep asking more questions. What if I would have tried harder? What if I would have pursued the dream the minute I knew it was a possibility? What if I hadn’t waited? What if I am never meant to live out that part of my life? What if the timing is wrong? When will the time be right? What was I thinking? This is why I don’t get my hopes up, why’d I let myself do it again? Did my initial fear crush the possibility of a dream come true? What if my internal navigation is off? Am I hoping for something I will never obtain?…
It’s the worst feeling in the world, realizing that something you thought was meant to be and something you wanted so bad, doesn’t work out. I had to grab my chest today because I felt like my heart and lungs were going to push themselves out of my rib cage. I sobbed and sobbed at the words I was reading. “Unfortunately” “At this point it is unlikely” “since you don’t have a credential nor teaching experience in this field our preference would be to hire someone with both.” My heart stopped. My dream of teaching at the high school was abruptly put to a stop.
I LOVE THOSE KIDS! I know them, I know what works for them, I know what helps them. I know how to talk to them to calm them down. I’ve witnessed most of them cry in front of me about life or hardships or homework or boyfriend troubles or family troubles. I’ve had lengthy conversations with their parents, several meetings with their teachers, pulled them from class for a variety of reasons (both school related and not), and I care about them. I check up with them, I remember what they say to me, I care about how they are feeling. Credential or not, teaching experience or not, my heart for those students is bigger than anyone could ever realize. That is something you can’t teach me in school, that is not a class that people can take. My heart and mind is in it for the benefit of the students. I care about how they do in school, I want them to be successful young people, and I check to make sure they are staying on the right track. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do to help support them and assist them in life, in school and in anything else there might be.
I wanted more than anything to follow my 8th grade students to the high school and be there to support them and help them navigate the unsteady waters of the high school. My heart longed to be the place where they came when they had good news to share, or needed a place to escape from it all. I imagined them seeing my face in the hall and being excited and coming to my class at lunch to eat with me, or me watching them get dressed up for their first homecoming. I imagined going to all the football games and dressing up in the team colors every Friday. I imagined dancing at the rally’s and staying after school to help the students with their homework. I imagined the meetings I’d have with the parents when things weren’t going right, and sharing the triumphs when the students were successful.
I spent the last year building a relationship with those kids, something that takes time and effort and determination. I cared. More than most would probably think is smart, but I cared. And, I still care. I’m worried about them. I don’t want 40+% of them to drop out of high school and not graduate. I don’t want them to feel like a little fish in a big pond. I want them to feel good about themselves, be successful and walk that graduation stage. They are my students and the kids that I care about a ton. I don’t want them to be handed over to someone who doesn’t know them or understand them or care about them. I want them to know that there is someone rooting for them at all times, good or bad. I want them to know that life may be hard but there is always someone in their corner, even if they feel all alone.
I know it is my dream of teaching at the high school that isn’t coming true, but I am also worried that many of my students’ dreams will be lost in the next four years too. I just hope they know that they can always come back and I will help them no matter what. Right now, an occasional visit doesn’t feel like enough. I want to be there, at the high school, with them. I want to be there rooting them on. I want to be there teaching them so much more and helping them be well educated and upstanding young people. I want them to know that they are the future and hope for this world and they have to be bigger and better and stronger than they even think they can be. I want them to know that they are special, and smart, and talented and that they have something to offer to the world. I want them to know that they have gifts and big hearts and funny quirks and that they are wonderfully unique.
I will miss you 8th grade class of 2011. You were my first set of students and you will forever hold a special place in my heart. Remember to be smart at all times, never settle for less and strive to be better.
“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think wise,
risking more than others think safe,
dreaming more than others think practical,
and expecting more than others think possible.”