As I looked upon the graduates of 2014 two nights ago, I couldn't help but think to myself, "life as an educator is good." There are so many conflicting emotions at a graduation when you are on educator. You are shocked because you can't believe after all the work and dedication you put in, the year is suddenly over. You are sad because students who have been a huge part of your everyday life will now move on. You are excited because all of the mentoring and guidance you have given to your students will now be put to the test in the great big world outside your school. But the one thing that remains constant is the fact that there are few things more rewarding than the gift of students.
The school experience is not the same for all students. Some students struggle everyday to make it to school, turn in their work on time, and overcome the pressures of being a teenager. Some students are like machines in their ability to balance their school work with extra curricular activities and community involvement. Some students focus most of their attention in one area that they know they will pursue beyond their school years. Others are still figuring it out. But when they are on the graduation stage, the only thing that matters is that those students have finished and are successful. The fact that educators play a role in all of those students lives is a true gift.
We have poured hours into these students. We have been there for their good days and their bad days. We have seen them work through challenges. We have seen them compete at their highest level. We see them in the wake of a family member passing as often as we have seen them accepting a scholarship. Either way, we are there for them. Our job is so much more than the description reads. All of this is not to brag that educators are over worked and under paid. In fact I think our payment is one of the best forms of compensation that you could ask for. We do this because we love our students, we want to help them find success, and we feel there is a greater purpose for our efforts that far outweighs any difficulties we may face in our careers.
Students are a gift. Parents and guardians trust us with their children. In some cases, we are some of the only "family" that our students have. That is a gift. That is a gift that almost brings me to tears when I really reflect on it. Whatever our students go on to do, the influence that has been granted to us will have an impact. We are able to work with students in their formidable years and truly play a role in the person they become. We are responsible for guiding the future of not only our students but the world in which they enter. To me this is one of the greatest gifts you could ask for.
I will miss the class of 2014 deeply. But my excitement for the adventures to come in their lives trumps that easily. The chance to work with them for the past four years has been a gift to me. And that gift is truly inspiring. Leading is Teaching.