Today was a good day. My students tried on the terrible, awful, very bad standardized test they had to take. I helped facilitate a successful meeting. I got some good news via email.
None of those things feels like it would make a good story.
Instead, I want to write a throw back. A few years ago, I had a student named Sheila. Sheila was an exceptional student. She was whip smart, studious, loved to read, and a gifted artist.
About half way through her freshman year, something changed. Instead of coming in and working, instead of chatting with me or reading a book, instead of paying attention, she came in and face planted onto her desk.
She would flatten her cheek on the desk and remain utterly unresponsive. It was scary and I was worried.
I reported the change to the counselor's office and found several other teachers had noticed the same behavior.
A few days later Sheila was gone. Vanished, it seemed. It took a couple of weeks before we were notified that she had been hospitalized for depression. I was still worried.
Then, Sheila did an amazing thing. She asked for me. She asked me to come and visit her and please bring her some books.
We had a long conversation. She showed me some of her writing and artwork in her journal. We talked about books and school. It was a happy conversation (if a little awkward, because really, how could it not be?).
Maybe I played a role in her struggle for mental health, probably not. At the very least, I can say she trusted me enough to visit her during what had to be an incredibly difficult and scary time for her. I am honored by that trust.
It took a few months, but Sheila returned to school. She remained an exemplary student. She graduated on time with high grades and an art scholarship to a university in Chicago.
I took her to an art show where she had a piece on display one time before she graduated. She didn't have a ride and I just couldn't let her not go. It was nice.
Her Senior year, I selected her for an award. It was the coolest thing. I got to show her how much her success impacted me. She got to see how much we all respected her.
Her success is an extremely good thing. It shows her strength of character...and gives me hope.