Why Bother Caring?
I just finished one of the more grueling weeks of public school teaching. Our school district requires that we have parent teacher conferences every November, and these last five days were filled to the brim. After a day of teaching, I sat at a table in my classroom in the evenings, conferring with parents, grandparents, and even some great grandparents about their children, who are also my students. Though depleted from teaching all day, parent teacher conferences are enlightening and heart changing.
A Child’s Life
No two children come from the same kind of home and talking with parents, I get a glimpse into the home life of each of my students. Though all children have two parents, there are no guarantees those parents are fully functioning, present, and committed to their child’s best interests.
Some parents are divorced, and share custody, but not the responsibilities of making sure their offspring make it to school. Other parents have abandoned their children all together, leaving them in the care of grandparents and sometimes even the great grandparents. Some students are homeless, and others come from single parent homes.
Then, there are the few students who do come from two parent homes. But even the two parent homes have their share of misfortunes; the blending of two families, the struggles of a long term illness, or financial difficulties.
My students, whether from the best or worst of homes, all share the same teacher, me. I have the privilege of spurring each of them toward their best potential, something I perceive even if they do not. I want them to succeed, and to see the value of their learning. I want them to persevere even when the work seems too hard and I want them to stay the course and finish well. My job is rewarding, but also a little heartbreaking. I am not sure my caring is enough for them.
Then I remember the one teacher who spurred me on, Mr. Dupay, my biology teacher. I was a sophomore in high school, barely passing any of my classes and toying with the idea of dropping out of school. I didn’t think I was smart enough to graduate. But Mr. Dupay saw my potential and put me in charge of the green house. He trusted me to take care of the plants, and to record data from the various experiments he had going on. He tapped into something I could do, trusted me with responsibilities and I excelled in his class.
It only takes one person with a little perception, one person who is willing to listen, one person whose heart is tender enough to care, to make a big difference in the life of another.
Why bother caring? It is worth it to care because we never know when our influence will spur someone toward discovering their ability to succeed.