Nine years ago my husband and I moved to California (home to me) so that I could become head of a very small proprietary school. I left that campus after two years, feeling that my experience with the faculty, students, and families was stellar and that I am definitely an independent -- rather than proprietary -- kind of administrator.
Today I revisited that campus, which now is inhabited by an entirely different school, for the first time since I left seven years ago. What fun to see bits and pieces of a past life -- including my old office and desk -- and to be washed by distinct and positive memories of lives shared in that extended space. It was the same campus and yet a very different one, a kind of deja vu in a foreign language or different colors or something.
The highlight of the visit was when we encountered young Pedro in the hall. When we last saw each other, he was in 1st grade. Now a rather strapping 8th grader, he stopped and looked at me somewhat quizzically. When I said who I was, not necessarily expecting him to remember and definitely cognizant of 8th grade boy boundaries and sensitivities, he stared hard and then swept me up in a bear hug and a loud, "Ruth"! He let go then hugged me again. Went down the hall and came back for a third. And in that hug I felt not only the honor one feels when a former student remembers, but also the release of some long-held tensions. As no one like a child has the ability to do, Pedro gave me the gift of Only Good Things Remembered. Eight hours later, I am still smiling. We never know how our touch affects children, whether they will remember us in the first place or how in the second.
Spring is a tough time for educators, as the whirlwind of culminating activities begins, accompanied by the inevitable stressors of anxious parents and tasks to be completed in much too little time. We all deserve a Pedro moment for a little balm to our souls.