Thursday, April 2, 2009

Those Students That Make It All Worth It

Kama and her oldest - Eme
Brittney Kaye at My Crazy Beautiful Life wrote a post today entitled "Goodbye." Every teacher who has what it takes to love their students and do everything in their power to make their lives, their hearts, their education, and their world better knows what it is like to worry about having to say goodbye.

Those days are heartbreaking, but once in a great while, one of our students makes it - really makes it. Kama Cutler is just that girl to me.

I remember specifically hoping the best for Kama. She was sweet and so intelligent, especially in English. I loved to read what she wrote, and it was easy to read too. None of those crazed blood stained papers for Kama!

When Kama was a junior in high school, I took her class to Winnipeg to see a theatre production. Kama loved it. On the way home we talked about our upcoming birthdays that were less than a week apart (sadly, I was much, much older!). I am a birthday freak as anyone who has read this blog can attest to.Kama was not looking forward to hers, even though it was her 17th.

As it turned out, she had once loved her birthday, but the year prior, when she turned 16, she was waiting for a party and presents equal to those that her older sister had received.

She was not waiting in greed. She was waiting in anticipation of the attention, the love, the recognition, the significance of reaching 16. The morning of her birthday, no one mentioned the occasion. She assumed it was that they were all waiting to surprise her. Anticipation built. But, when the end of the evening came, no one had remembered.

I'm not sure that any story has bothered me as much as that one. I know there are many kids who do not have lavish birthdays. I know that not everyone goes berserk over every year older. But I will say this. It bothered me that this wonderful, perfect, talented, honest, sweet, and selfless girl was so hurt.

So, on her 17th birthday, her classmates and I gave her a surprise party. We had cake, German Chocolate (her favorite), and presents and candles and decorations. Kama cried so hard that she ended up covered in hives!

Did I use those fifty minutes to teach English. No. I used those minutes to show love. I used those minutes to create for Kama something that I hope she will remember for the rest of her life (in addition to 'dangling participles' hehe).

I love her. I love her like she belongs to me. I am proud of the beautiful articulate woman that she has become. I guess, in a way, she always was. There were about four years where we lost track of each other. I do not even think I can count the number of times I thought of her and wondered how she was. Now I know. She is just as perfect as I remember. She was my student first, but sometimes student is not enough. Sometimes students become family.

Kama, you are my family. I will be here for you always. Never forget that.


  1. I love those stories and those people who come into our lives that make everything we do worthwhile. I can not wait for the day that I truly begin to understand the way that one thing I did affected someone else's life so greatly.

  2. What a great tribute. I can relate. There are many former students I keep in touch with, but many more that I'm left to wonder about.

    On the topic of what you and I have in common, there's even more: I was born in ND, although I moved away in '74, when I was too young to remember.

    I teach at Troy-Buchanan High School in what used to be a rural area. It's now considered an exurb of St. Louis. Our English department has grown to 9 teachers for grades 10-12. Creative Writing is an elective that I was lucky enough to take over four years ago.

    I can't imagine having the same kids in class for so many years. That would certainly highlight the underlying importance of building relationships for student success.

    E-mail if you want to "talk" more! grayeyedscorpio@yahoo

    PS--How do you maintain so many blogs?