Kim Ware, a high school English teacher at New Albany High School, was called upon by National Education Association Member Benefits (NEAMB) to relate to the world the many rewards of teaching.
She was one of four member teachers from across the United States to be featured in a video celebrating the impact of teachers in students’ lives. The group was flown to Washington, D.C. for the weekend video shoot.
Kim provides the following reflection on her experience. You will appreciate her sentiments and the loving gesture from a former student that made the occasion even more special. Teaching is the gift that keeps on giving – to teachers and their students. Hers is a story that illustrates it.
“GRATITUDE TURNS WHAT WE HAVE INTO ENOUGH”
Sometimes things don’t go quite the way you expect; sometimes they are so much better! April 1, 2017, was one of those days for me. I woke early in anticipation of an exciting day filming a video for NEA Member Benefits. When I arrived at the shoot, I was treated like a queen as the production company helped me select my wardrobe and the makeup artist prepared me for being in front of the camera.
I excitedly shared stories with the interviewer about how New Albany High School teachers make real and lasting differences in students’ lives every day. The interviewer asked me to share classroom stories, and I told him about a symbolic gift that I present to my students each year. “I give them each a glass pebble,” I explained, “and I tell them that it represents their life in many ways.”
I shared that every year in my classroom, I use these little pebbles to show my students that their lives are precious., that they are strong and can persevere in times of struggle, and that they have unique gifts to share with others. The most amazing thing to me, I explained, is that students keep them for years after they leave my class.
When I finished my story, they gave me a few minutes to think about a final response: to relate a particular time when I knew I had impacted a student’s life. I was overwhelmed! For the life of me, I could not come up with one particular story to share, and I was beginning to get frustrated when the door to the room opened, and a group of people came in. All I could think at first was that my interview time was up, and I had not answered the final and most important questions; then I looked again at the group entering the room. Leading the way was one of my former students, Gaby Martinez! NEAMB had flown her there (her first flight) to surprise me! I cannot express the joy of that moment! After a few minutes of catching up, Gaby shared some of her memories of my class, and she presented me with an engraved “pebble” to show her gratitude for the impact I have had on her life and education. The pebble reads: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” Gaby reminded me to be thankful for everything.
As I reflect on the day that turned out to be so much more than I could have imagined, I see a new symbolism in the pebbles – the ripple effect. As teachers, we have the opportunity to impact our students in many ways, and through the ripple effect, our students impact so many others. As I told her that day, Gaby has always inspired me. I look forward to seeing the positive impact that she will have on students that she teachers in the future, and I am grateful for the impact she has had on me.
The video was released on the NEA website May 1 in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Month – CLICK HERE to see it! (Hint: Get a Kleenex.)