Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ordinary Miracle

My friend Judy and find that it's about this point in the semester when the quirks and habits of the students are either endearing or maddening. And for some reason, this week--the week after spring break--has brought a shower of maddening quirks, with one sad one. Not somebody died sad, but teachery sad, which is ultimately a happy thing.

She had a student who had been a doctor in the Ukraine? Russia? Romania? Somewhere over there. A white coat medical doctor. Several years ago they amazingly got visas to immigrate to America. But none for their parents who they lived with. She wanted to stay. He said if we don't go, we'll never go. If we don't go, we're all lost. They went. I think his first job was something like picking up trash in schools after hours; her first was playing piano for a Montessori school--jobs that don't require English. Those kinds of jobs. Then after ten years of this he got a job near us, an hour from Los Angeles, that could support both of them, and she decided to go to school to really learn English. She was in my friend's remedial English class.

When Judy opened up her mail on Monday after Spring Break there was a drop notice from this student. Wow, Judy said. My favorite student who was so hungry to learn is gone, Judy said. My favorite student who'd made teaching the lower level class rewarding. She wrote her an email, wondering. A day or two later the return email arrived. This woman , who had come to America and had been waiting for ten years until the right moment, had been granted admission to the pediatric residency program of Loma Linda University and was going to be a doctor again.

I've been listening to Sarah McLachlan's
Ordinary Miracle song ever since she sang it on the Olympics. I think this story is one of those ordinary miracles, one of those teachery miracle stories that help me when I'm a bit dragging. We're here. Students are here. And when it all works--that the student gets to where they want to go--and we somehow knew them at some point in that trajectory, well, it's just an ordinary miracle. It's why we hang in there through the maddening quirky moments and do the grading and the lesson prep and hope and dream and encourage and push and pull.

I salute all the teachers out there, no matter where your classroom is or what your classroom may be.

1 comment:

Judy said...

I actually told a bit of her story to my students this week. They were surprised, even shocked, to hear it. "Wow," said one, "it's amazing what you don't know about the person sitting right next to you."

Ain't that the truth.