The classroom bell rang. A high school girl made her way through the chaos of bustling students who were eager to get in the hallway. I had just completed my 4th presentation that day. When I am done speaking, it is common for students to come up and ask me questions or tell me a story of a family or friend inflicted with cancer. All of the other students had left the classroom and this girl just stood there in front of me. I asked her if she had a question as she didn’t say anything. She stood there and her eyes welt up with tears. She held her finger up indicating she needed a moment before she could say anything. I asked her if she was ok. She nodded yes. I asked her if it involved a friend or family member. She nodded no. I stood there waiting patiently and empathetically as I watched the tears roll down her cheeks. After a few minutes, she gathered enough courage to utter what she wanted to say. “Thank you.” A few seconds of pause and she said it again, “ I just wanted to say thank you.” She wiped her tears and walked away.
I stood there silently, pondering my last few minutes. I wondered if there was someone in her life who really had cancer. I then thought of what her family life was like. Did she lack a positive female role model in her life and I filled that void, if only for that hour? Did she need somebody to care? I probably will never learn what brought that student to thank me so tearfully. I will however, forever remember how it made me feel.
Initially, I took on my role as an educator to fill an empty space in my own life. My biggest passion in life is parenting. It truly is the best thing I have ever done for myself. My last and third child left for college and I was an empty nester. The ache is real and it hasn’t been easy. It seemed only natural for me to seek out opportunities where I could impact our youth. I am so grateful for this opportunity as the lives I have touched and impacted have been many in a very short period of time. A routine of speaking back to back classes, presenting to different schools during any given week can blur together, but then I have moment like that, with a student, where my impact as an educator becomes the reason.
As Jane Goodall said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
~Holly | BCFF Community Educator – Central Wisconsin