The world is a tough place. Things don’t always go as planned. Disappointment is par-for-the-course. Challenges and obstacles seem to present themselves when we can least deal with them. No matter how hard we try, injustice lives on.
Yet, I am lucky enough to be in a place where I see greatness every day. I get to experience the flip-side and I see millions of positive, miraculous events every single day.
I am a public-school teacher and I have a front row seat to some of the most life-affirming things going on in the world right now. Some are monumental milestones, and some are miniscule moments, but they all reach levels of greatness.
I see the student carrying their lunch tray to the table in the cafeteria and drop it. As his face burns red with embarrassment, two students from an entirely different class, jump up and offer to help clean up the mess and get a new lunch for the student.
I see a teacher sit down on the lobby floor next to the crying Kindergartener at dismissal time, lean in and whisper. Within moments, the child is smiling and the tears have stopped.
I see a parent come into the office, loaded down with bags of folders. She tells the school secretary that her child mentioned that some kids didn’t have all the folders needed on their supply list, and she did not want the teachers having to buy them all. No, the parent said, no need to tell the teachers they are from me. Just see that the students who need the folders, get them.
I see a para-professional, on her way to her classroom, notice a student sitting in the hallway, working on a worksheet before the first bell rings and clearly struggling to complete it. She asks the student if they would like some help and she proceeds to give a mini lesson in rounding numbers. The student’s face lights up as things begin to click.
I see a custodian pushing a loaded cart down a crowded hallway. Two students see the effort it takes to maneuver around the corners and jump in to help. I then hear one of them say, as they bid him goodbye, Thank you so much for all you do for all of us every day!
I see an administer in the drop off car-line, taking the time to let a new transfer student know that he is glad to have him as part of our school family and to reassure the reluctant parent that her child is in good hands.
I see our cafeteria manager notice a special needs student in line, become agitated by the noise and the confusion, so he comes over and takes the student out of line and assists him in getting his lunch and finding his seat.
I see a teacher going from classroom to classroom before the first bell, to borrow magnifying glasses from her colleagues. Later, I see her leading her little ones around the school as they gather clues to help them catch the runaway Gingerbread Boy.
I see a 5th grade student in a bright yellow patrol belt, noticing the book a younger pre-k student is looking through while they wait outside their classroom for the bell to ring. The patrol tells the little one that she also loved that book, and an immediate bond is formed between them.
These events were all this week. At my school. I would venture to say that similar greatness is going on in schools all over the country.
Yet, if you were to let the political noise in and listen to the ranting and raving by some, over the conditions of public schools, you would think that they were places of failure and suffering.
However, these moments prove that in spite of lack of resources, in spite of political indifference, in spite of the failure of public support for public education, schools are miraculous places where every day there is greatness going on. That greatness is a direct result of the people who are in those schools. The people who, in spite of poor pay, lack of respect, unreasonable expectations, enormous workloads, and often being vilified, are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of children. It is their why, their just cause, their calling.
So take a moment to stop and acknowledge and thank those that you know, who work in public education. They are purveyors of greatness!