The Dawning of a Bright Future
The Dawning of a Bright Future
It was June 14th and the last day of middle school had arrived. The energy in the halls was electric and the students were scurrying from class-to-class seeing their friends and anticipating the final bell so they can celebrate the arrival of summer vacation.
I had spent the past couple of months trashing and treasuring all things that I had accumulated in my classroom over the past 19 years. In cleaning out my drawers, I came across a student’s past homework assignment dated all the way back to 1964, long before I became a teacher or was born for that matter. The faded yellow paper had been wedged behind two drawers, yet was in pristine shape.
Looking into my classroom, you can see about two dozen boxes and bins surrounding the perimeter of my room, piled nearly three-quarters high to the ceiling, all packed and ready for the big move. My room had been stripped down to nothing and I mean every last thumbtack off the wall and paper out of the drawer were removed. The $22 million dollar renovation was only days away from its commencement and we were instructed that everything must go.
My parents Michael and Donna, wife Laura and newborn baby Summer had arrived that day. The students had heard so much about my daughter and were excited to meet her for the first time. My mother was there to help organize my classroom nearly 19 years ago and hadn’t seen it since. My father had visited on a few occasions, as had my wife. That day marked not only the end of an era for me, but the dawning of a new beginning.
Upon their arrival, word spread quickly that my daughter was in the building and groups of students and faculty members flocked to room 124 to pay a visit. The joy surrounding Summer was evident among everyone and is something that I will never forget. What is it about a baby that draws people together? Is it the innocence of youth? The non-judgmental look they give back at us that is purely unadulterated and genuine? Nonetheless, magical moments were happening and I was capturing as many of them as I could.
A day prior, I had thrown an afterschool party for students who had achieved high academically in my class throughout the course of the school year. Nearly 40 were in attendance, including a number of former students who were about to graduate high school the following day. The feelings were bittersweet, as I knew that this would be the farewell party in my classroom of 19 years and most likely the last time I would see all of these students together before they departed their separate ways to college. But who knows, they may fool me. I reminisced back to when they were all in middle school and would surprise visit me in my classroom on my birthday, bringing in a pizza. They made it an annual tradition. One year, they even brought in hats, streamers, confetti and dessert to celebrate the occasion.
These moments lie dear to my heart and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. The reason I share all of this with you is that anytime you may question the state of our future and where it is going, I can assure you that we are in excellent hands. I have been a teacher now for nearly two decades and one thing I’ve learned over the years in working with over 2000 children is that to connect and understand them deeply means taking the time to truly care, asking questions and showing a genuine interest in their lives. This will get at the heart of what truly matters — their heart and their true selves.
“Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.” ~William Arthur Ward
This, to me, is vital for creating an enlightened social consciousness and it starts by how we look at ourselves and our children. We must communicate positive messages about our world and that it is a thriving and healthy place to live and grow, where opportunity abounds and hope is something we have available in our grasp, if we so choose. We must not get entangled in the dystopian perspective of a society filled with melee, injustice, and the malarky of political strife that always ends in a vicious circle of frustration and unfriendly discourse.
I’ve learned that looking at things through an optimistic lens and taking the time to foster relationships with people make the world a happier and safer place. But how do we get started on that mission? When we take the time to remove any judgment based on a person’s “haves” or “have-nots” and/or our own personal beliefs about how things should be, and then take the time to celebrate each person’s life for what it is at that moment, we will experience the shift. It’s about showing care, compassion, and belief in people on a regular basis. No matter what a person’s life circumstances may be, you can be the change in their life that will bring them a sense of self-worth, which will ultimately provide them with the opportunity to become who they are meant to be. Hey, you just might be surprised. They might go on to change the world (aka “your world”).
Douglas Haddad, is an award-winning educator and best-selling author. You can go online or to a local bookstore and order his best-selling-book The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential, you will find specific strategies to help guide your child with time management, setting goals, and motivation to achieve greatness in their life. www.douglashaddad.com
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