How do you want to be remembered by your students in the future?
I can see it now. The year: 2022. My former students, dressed to the nines in the latest retro fashions, climbing aboard their hovering hybrid carriers – efficiently running on the latest biofuel of Brussels sprouts and okra – zooming toward their old elementary school. They are moving swiftly and eagerly, for tonight is their 10 year school reunion!
When they arrive at their destination, old yet familiar faces begin to appear. The students begin to realize it has been a few years since they were together last before heading off to different high schools around the county, thus starting their separate journeys.
As old friends walk through the door, new lives are revealed: Unsurprisingly, the exceptionally brilliant Cara* is in medical school to become a neurosurgeon; and Billy, as we predicted, became an international soccer star (Beckham had to retire sooner or later). Andy – who was always helping his teachers fix their computers – now works in Hollywood as a key grip, of course; and the diplomatic Kristin went straight to the U.S. Congress out of college…why, where else would she be?
When more people start to show up, the students begin to share stories about the teachers that inspired them to these different places.
“The avuncular Mr. A. always told me to shoot high and aim for the stars,” one student recalls. “He was a wise, old owl!”
Another student chimes in, “I sometimes yearn for Mrs. M’s melodramatic journal prompts and her Hemmingway-esque style of telling stories to our class.”
The students share many laughs as they regale themselves with a litany of funny memories. Meanwhile, my name comes up.
“Mrs. C. was always smiling,” one student recalls.
“I remember listening to Michael Bublé’s CD in her class everyday!”
“She would do anything to make us happy…remember that one day when our class asked if we could name her new cat Fish-Whiskers? She actually did it!” (Well, to be fair, it became a last name.) “Then, we asked for a class fish and she installed a new fish tank!” (True story.)
“Her passion for math made me really enjoy math,” says Peter. Everyone nods their heads in agreement.
Before going home, the students share a few more memories of former teachers, like the vainglorious algebra teacher, Ms. B. and the apparitional P.E. teacher, Mr. G. After a delightful evening, they hop into their hovercrafts and go to their homes.
I can only hope that my vision of the future becomes true. I simply want to be remembered as a smiling, passionate teacher, who would do anything for her students. I would trade all the okra-powered hovering hybrid carriers in the world for that legacy to become true.
*All of the character names have been changed to protect the identity of my former students.