One of the running jokes between me and one of my fellow teachers is that I am on ump-teenth year of my five year plan. When I first started teaching, I claimed I was only going to teach for five years. I certainly did not think I would be teaching long enough to see my students not only graduate from college, but graduate and law school.
This time of the year is generally my favorite of the school year. Not because I can count the days on my two hands before the summer break, but because of all the college kids come home. Often (some more than others) they will poke their heads into my room to see how Mr. G. is doing and to catch me up on their lives.
For me, this is the payoff. It makes the long nights at debate tournaments, weekends away from home, dealing with high school dramas, etc. worth it. They say in professional baseball that the biggest jump is from AAA to the majors. I think one of the biggest jumps in personal maturity takes place between a student's senior year in high school and the end of their first year of college. You actually start to see the students developing into young adults.
Today, I spent a good part of my day visiting with one of my all-time favorite students, Aushianna Nadri. She graduated from Austin College this past Sunday and will be going to law school next fall. I am not surprised to hear she made her law school choice based on wanting to help those less fortunate. Aush always seemed to have a way about caring for others. I remember a few years back when she made "debate goodie bags" for all the LD debaters as they were getting ready for the new season. She was a good kid and now has grown to be a great adult. Our society needs more like her.
We don't always get to see the rewards of teaching. Every once and a while we get a glimpse. Whether it's working side by side with a former student who is now your colleague (and keeps me going) or the one who just got elected to a local school board. With all the uncertainty surrounding school funding in Texas and the US, it was good to see some of the fruits of our work. It was affirming to see our work is meaningful.