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Jul 12, 2007

Remembering

I'm in the hallway. A brick half wall, finished with cyclone fencing to the roof of the outside corridor. I wait and I cry quietly. I'm waiting, embarrassed, defiant. I form excuses in my head. The door opens and she steps out to talk with me. Black curly hair, prematurely gray. I look up at her, away from the green plaid skirt, knee socks and brown nike tennis shoes. She shakes her head at me, questioning, waiting for an answer.

"You don't know how hard it was last year, how hard it was for me..."

"And what about me?" is her response.

We talk and I begin to understand empathy, the other side of things. Reaching out beyond the ethnocentrism of childhood. What it's like to look at things from another perspective.

I remember this event as a marker for the beginning of adolescence, the groundwork for what I was to become. It was when I decided to work with kids in trouble. It is why I am a foster parent.

Miss Carroll, Miss Rita Carroll. I watched her work a room of 35 eighth graders, teach us, respect us, discipline us. Her teaching, her caring for us as individuals, her coming back to work each day to a bunch of unruly pre- adolescents who were all but wild. The example she set, sticks with me. She made a difference for me. Perhaps it would have happened some other way, some other day, I don't know. I looked up to her, loved her.

She is still in education, a principal now. I visited her seven years ago and let her know she made an impact in my life, that I was grateful for her presence, her dedication, her perseverance. We laughed and reminisced about that class.

I wonder, when I meet people or see kids hurting, reaching out; who was that person for them or who will be that person?

2 comments:

Tracey said...

I think it is awesome that you went back and told her that she was the one that made the difference. I wrote a letter to my son's teacher this year, letting him know that he will be one of the ones that made a difference in our family's life. He was so touched and appreciated it greatly.

TruLove said...

Miss Edwards. She was the teacher that made the difference in my life. I still keep in contact with her. Wow. Oh, by the way, Carroll is my maiden name...wonder if we're related?