It’s not that I haven’t wanted to express my opinions about the field of education lately — a ton has happened since I last posted that deserved to be written about — but, quite honestly, I’ve been lazy — or biting my tongue, you take your choice.
One of the best parts of being a high school teacher is when you see your students — current and former — get in to the school of their choice. Even better is when these students thank you for the role you played in that process. Sometimes it’s a little bit of help or guidance while with others it’s a lot more –but either way, it’s nice to hear a little thanks. It makes it all worth it.
We had a pretty long Spring Break this year and mine started off by finding out about a student who was accepted in to Parsons The New School for Design. She’s worked her tail off to get there and the process has been long and involved. It’s been her dream for quite some time and it’s very rewarding to see that the hard work she put in to this goal paid off. Better yet was her getting an acceptance letter the next day from the Fashion Institute of Technology, giving her an even better option long term, as it offers a better major for her desire to become a high end Buyer. Getting a sincere thank you from this student made my Break — it’s an unbelievable reward.
On the other end of the spectrum, we also see those who struggle with finding out that they didn’t get in to their first choice school. I spoke with two former students over twitter today who both were rejected from their first choice school. Both made the best of their options and had tremendous experiences. One was honored as her school’s Homecoming Queen. Both young ladies found jobs after graduation and are bettering their communities at the same time. I’m pretty sure that both would be the first to tell you — after having time to reflect — that NOT getting in to their first school of choice helped them in the long run.
I’ve seen plenty of students get that first choice school and I just knew it wouldn’t work out — sometimes I was wrong about that, but I’ve been around long enough that I’m correct on this more than not (that’s not something that I say with pride). And it’s not all about Harvard or Yale or even Parsons for some students. For some it’s not even college. Success at the next level takes many different forms.
I’ve written 14 letters of recommendation this year — I’d say I typically average between 12-20 — while turning away 2-3 (I don’t believe in writing a lukewarm letter — it hurts the kid and I think they’re better off finding somebody who can do a better job for them). It’s the beginning of April and many will be walking the halls this week with a little extra pep in their step. Others, on the other hand, will be a little more down in the dumps, so to speak, not realizing that it could actually be a blessing in disguise for them. In many ways, whether it was a big envelope or a small one that arrived, at least the decision has been made.
We get ripped constantly — yet it’s worth it to hear that kid thank you — I promise you, it’s worth it.