Thursday, May 24, 2007

Made It!

5-25-07: this post has been updated with my reply to my student's email

Today was the last day of school!

As I made the right turn from the long driveway out of the school parking lot, for just a second, I thought I was going to melt into a puddle of tears. This year reflects back to me like an extremely long and surreal dream. I know, beyond all doubt, that's it's been by the grace of God that I've made it through and been successful. Success, in this profession, is measured by state mandated testing and only 12 of my 135 students failed the test. While I'm not exactly content with a 90% passing rate, I know I gave it my dead level best, short of actually adopting those 12 as my own. Even at that, I'm not so sure it would have happened for them.

But getting high percentages on high stakes testing isn't really how I measure success at all. This is an excerpt from an email I opened just a bit ago from one of my students.

I meant what I wrote in your memory book, about you being my hero. The more I get to know you, the more I want to be just like you when I grow up. I never thought my role model would be my teacher and friend, but surprises happen every day! I just admire the way you can always trust in God, even through the hard times. I accepted Christ when I was 5, but sometimes I doubt whether he's really there, because I can't really feel him, ya know? I know I should be reading the bible and stuff every day, but sometimes I forget, and when I do remember, I don't really feel like it, but at Church and things like that, I get really into it. Anyway, I hope I can learn to be like you.

Reading that letter DID bring the puddle of tears. It's such a jolt to read something like that because I tend to focus on my failures. So many things have not turned out "right" in my life, and yet this child is looking up to me. I feel like there's just so much she doesn't know about the "just like me" she has in her head. I'll let you know how I respond to her.


*the reply*
I wanted you to know that it's very touching for me to hear you say that I'm your hero, but it's also a bit scary. I know you are very level-headed, but for my own peace of mind I just want to respond to your sentiment a bit. The thing is, you are seeing me only during a tiny space of time....and it happens to be a time when I'm doing the very thing I feel most called to do in the world. Teaching gives me a great opportunity to demonstrate Christ-like qualities. Jesus was a teacher, after all, and for me, teaching and being like Him go hand-in hand. I have to be honest with you and let you know that there are many other times during the day and during the week when I have a great deal of difficulty maintaining a Christ-like attitude. Also, some of the difficulties I've faced, have been a direct result of my own bad choices. I think one of the reasons I'm able to trust in God so strongly now is because there have been times when I barely trusted in Him at all. I guess I just want to remind you that the qualities you admire in me aren't really "me"....they are just me allowing Christ to show up and I honestly feel much of the time that I'm just barely squeaking that out. I don't want you to think that I'm belittling your compliment, I'm not. But I do think your words about me say much about you. It's clear that you choose to focus on the good and you are merciful and graceful toward others. I'm honored to be the recipient of your esteem!

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Chris Robey said...

Those kinds of notes seem to keep us working with kids, don't they? Sometimes it seems like we are spinning our wheels and going nowhere, but in the midst of those things, God still works.

Awesome, isn't it?

I would like to hear from you to see how things are going on. Hope all is well!


Christine Bakke said...


I'm so glad you've made it through the year and with "good results" - of all kinds in spite of a lot of surreal hell.

Jay said...

Congrats on the end of the year, Pam. And wow, that's quite a letter! But I think you know by now that you're a lot of people's hero (you're definitely one of mine).

God bless ya, gal.

grace said...

Hey Chris! Good to hear from you. I'll send an email and catch you up soon.

Christine: So much of it just seems like a blur now, ya know? I do know that your encouragement, prayers, and friendship have played a part in my survival. *great big hug*

Jay: Well...I guess it's not the "hero" part that concerns me so much as that imaginary pedastal that I fear being put upon...maybe the cape will make for a soft landing???? :)

Anonymous said...

Well said! What a great way to put it without sounding "falsely humble" while encouraging what you see in her as well as reminding her that no one is perfect, but we're all on a journey.

Thank you for sharing.


Greg said...

I could hear "The Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler playing while I read your blog. I swear I'm not gay!


grace said...

Becky: Thanks for the comment! :)

Greg: Your comment reminds me of that really cute song....have you heard it? From a musical or something...??? :) Thanks for stopping by!

kurt_t said...

I have been trying to log in for weeks.

I love this post!

This is so much what the gospel message is all about. The important thing about us is that God works through us. And no matter how messed up we might think our lives might seem to us, God can still work through our lives.

grace said...

Kurt! I've missed you! I'm so glad you made it on came here with your encouragement. I agree with your assessment....totally.

Hope all is well with you, Tony, and the teenager!


Brady said...

What a cool letter, Pam. I'm really not all that surprised to see such a letter from one of your students, though. You've made a huge impact on a lot of people just here on your blog, so I can only imagine the people you have touched in real life.

David said...

Oh Pam,

I read this and hope you understand that in the midst of everything you see as your failures those around you see Christ so clearly. I don't say this to puff you up (which would be a feat in itself), and I know that your student's letter is more encouragement than any I could possibly give you. But she is certainly not alone in seeing her savior in your life and in your attitude, words, and deeds.