Beve's back at work. Full-swing. Or, if a swing is an 8 hour shift, far more than full-swing. He's been waking up, heart pounding, brain racing, unable to do anything but get up and at it, at about 3 AM. Been at his desk by 5AM. And it was after 9PM last night when he walked through the door. He takes his job very seriously. Always has, always will. Kids' lives are at stake here, and he knows it.
This afternoon J and I, out running errands, stopped by to see him during daylight, and there was still a line-up of students outside his door. Today was the day students got their schedules, were either thrilled with what they saw on those white printed papers or ready to do battle to change them. Anyway, we finally ran the gauntlet and sat down on Beve's couch when a final student wandered in after 4 PM. This very courteous young man asked Beve what time he'd gotten to work this morning. Beve told him, "A little late today. I stopped for a donut so didn't get here until 5:40." The boy shook his head in wonder. "They don't pay you enough, they really don't," he said. When Beve finished helping him with his schedule, the boy--really so close to being a young man, now that he's a senior in high school-- stood, walked over to Beve and shook his hand to thank him.
And I thought, 'that's why he does it.' It's for boys like that who have been raised well, are thoughtful and perceptive enough to know he puts in more hours than he could ever be paid for. For all the angry parents who call him and yell because their child is out of control (though the parents are likely barely in control of their own lives), for all the interventions Beve's had to do, and all the insolent, disinterested kids who haven't a clue what teachers are willing to do on their behalves, there is now and then that one child who says 'thank-you.' For all the homework that isn't turned in and all the half-assed jobs that are, and all the 'I don't give a flying-leap what you want me to do, you can't make me!' there is, every now and then, a single student for whom a light goes on at some point, who suddenly, on some Thursday for no reason that one can account for, can do the math equation they thought they were never going to do, or read as they had no idea they could, or can make their instrument sound like its supposed to, and it's worth it. All the extra hours, all the waking up in the middle of the night, trying to come up with some new way of doing things, some new approach that will reach that kid who isn't getting it. It's all worth it. I've seen the way a teacher lights up when a student they never thought was going to finally succeeds, even the smallest bit. It can be a teary beautiful victory for a teacher, I've seen that. Yes, it's all worth it.
It hit me again today how grateful I am that Beve does what he does. But not only Beve. I'm grateful for all the teachers I know, and I know a lot of them. A whole lot. These are dedicated, engaged, willing-to-spend-it-all-for-each-student kind of people. Sure, there are some crummy teachers out there--of course there are. But the ones in my family (5+ teachers and Beve) are good ones. And I'd just like to add my voice to this grateful boy's of this afternoon, and say, "Thank you."