I received that unexpected email yesterday. That heartwarming email that interrupts your planning and organizing before you leave school for the day. The email that freezes time as you reflect back to that class and all of its personalities, joys, and trials. As soon as I saw Ellie’s name and the intro, “You probably don’t remember me…” This now took precedence over the planning and organizing. Remember Ellie…how could I not?
Ellie entered my classroom, tall, thin, and cheerful – always cheerful – greeting me every morning, yes every morning, with a “good morning Mrs. M.!” And I assumed there were many mornings that did not start off so good for her. The year before I met Ellie when she was in third grade, she and her mom had been living in mom’s car and she had been abused. When I met Ellie, she was in the first of two foster homes she would see that school year. Her father would schedule visits with her and never show up. Her mother had abandoned her. Meeting her, I would not have guessed any of the suffering she knew.
Ellie did like to talk…a lot. About anything and everything. And she needed reassurance, and comfort and security and stability, and probably many more things than most kids. But she always wore a smile and positive outlook. At the end of our school year together, Ellie went to live with what would become her adoptive family. The couple owned a dog and did lots of camping. She was so excited! She wanted a mom and dad. We exchanged a letter afterward and I was comforted knowing she was going to make a family very happy and be in a good place.
Ellie is now a high honors student and a semi-finalist in a poetry contest! Yay, go Ellie! She wrote to thank me for my patience with her and making a positive impact on her life. I’m hopeful that I was a good role model for her. She opened my eyes to the hardships that children shouldn’t have to manage. I teach because I love children and learning. Children like Ellie are affirmation of the goodness in life. Be kind and do well.