Tag Archives: Students

Where Everybody Knows Your Name… (sing with me)

Those of you who remember the 80s will know about the TV sitcom, Cheers. The theme song says, “Sometimes you want to go/ where everybody knows your name/ and they’re always glad you came./ You wanna be where you can see/ our troubles are all the same./ You wanna go where everybody knows your name.” The show took place in a bar where the bartenders took care of newcomers and regular customers alike. It was a place where people could share joys with the bartenders or shed a tear in their beer. (Wait a minute…that’s another song.)

Anyway, I view my library as a type of “Cheers” bar…no alcohol, of course. Duh…we’re a public school. But I liken it to Cheers when students and staff alike “belly up” to the bar (my circulation desk), and tell me (bartender/librarian) their troubles and joys. I smile and nod, try to ask the right questions, and I give helpful advice when needed.

Lately, however, I’ve had a different dilemma. Most likely because I have a son who is a senior, many of the students feel more free to share things with me. A big item to share is their dislike for certain teachers and/or assignments. I refuse to take sides, and mostly will back up the teachers. After all, we adults need to stick together (wink wink nod nod).

I have noticed an increase in the number of students who feel as if they should get shortened assignments and extensions on the due date. Seriously?! One student was bemoaning the fact that he had to turn in an assignment a few hours early because he was going on a field trip that day. He thought he should get a one day extension on the project. I asked him when the paper was assigned. Lo and behold it was assigned almost 3 months ago, and he still wanted a one-day extension. Oh.my.word. Needless to say, I pointed it out to the student and did not take his side. I could tell he wasn’t impressed with me at 8:00 in the morning.

My next customer walked by 5 minutes later spewing random hurtful comments about another teacher who assigned a rather large assignment. This poor child thought is was simply “too much”. I gently/firmly reminded this student that, this assignment will seem like a piece of cake when he starts getting his assignments in college next year. He just rolled his eyes and walked away. I fear I may start losing “customers” if this trend continues.

It’s time for a reality check, kiddos. We’re glad we know your names, and your troubles seem all the same. But there ends my sympathy. And thus ends another episode from the place where Shirley Temple and Arnold Palmer  are found in the biography section (92), a Long Island is in the geography section (974.7), and a grasshopper is in the insect section (595.72).

 

Currently reading: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

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The Best Christmas Present Ever

On Thursday, December 21, I received the best Christmas present ever of my professional career. Even as I think about it now, I turn into a big pile of goo.

I taught 4th grade before becoming a librarian at the high school. One of the benefits has been seeing the last group of former students of mine grow and mature into wonderful young adults. One student in particular stands out. He was a little Amish boy who didn’t want to be in school. His dream, at the time, was just to be by himself out in nature. He would have loved to try out the survival skills needed to be Brian in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. Who needed math, English and Indiana History? I felt for him because I know the feeling and love of being in solitude, enjoying the the quiet stillness of nature. But the part that bothered me was the fact that he was one of the best creative writers I had ever seen during 15 years of teaching. I still have a book of poems from that class in my office at school. His poem about watching deer is a highlight in that book. One day, my patience with this little guy had reached its end. He made a bit of a smart comeback when I confronted him about his lack of effort. Needless to say, we went out into the hallway for a “Come to Jesus” meeting.

Fast forward 8 years. This little Amish boy ended up deciding to forgo joining the Amish church and finish high school instead. He homeschooled in junior high and entered the public school system again when he was a ninth grader. I was surprised to see him one day as I was getting ready to do a book talk in his English class. For the next 4 years we enjoyed small conversation and saying “Hi” in the hallways. About 3 weeks ago I found out he was graduating at the end of Semester I in December. I saw him in the hallway, told him congratulations and asked him what he was planning for the next year. Imagine my surprise when he said he was joining the Marines. We were both in a hurry, but I was hoping to finish the conversation later.

On Thursday, we both found ourselves in the hallway during class. He promptly came up to me, held out his hand and we shook hands. Then he said, “I’ve wanted to tell ‘Thank you’ you for a long time. You’ve always been a special teacher to me, and I could tell that you cared about me. You know, I remember that speech you gave me in the fourth grade. At the time, I wasn’t so happy about it, but I thought about it quite often afterwards. You were right, I could do a lot more than I was doing. And I just really wanted to tell you ‘Thank you’.” Well…I held it together, but I get teary-eyed even now thinking about it. We talked more about his decision to go into the Marine corps and his Amish family. I wish we had more time to talk. And I wonder if he’ll ever know how profoundly his ‘thank you’ has affected me.

Sometimes, I’m sure we all wonder if we are truly doing our calling. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But there are times that I question. However, that student was placed in my path for a reason in 2004, and I was placed back in his path for a reason in 2012. We each taught the other in ways we may never fully comprehend. What a blessed present this truly has been…

Currently reading: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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