My first class of students were a 4th/5th grade split in Detroit Public Schools. I admit I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. But I thank God that I had my Auntie Shirley as my teacher mentor.
I can remember every class that I have taught. Out of every class there are many families that stayed with me. Two of my students died in a house fire. I lost track with their family. But every February I think about Fallon and her sister Telia.
I think about the student who hated school. He was in my 5th grade class reading at a first grade level. I remember Phillip.
There were times when I was blessed to teach one student and their sibling years later. I remember Katie and Tim. I remember my two Rachel’s and their supportive families.
I think about Julia selecting me as the person that she admired the most. That day I fought back tears. As I stood by her side as she read a speech about me on stage. Now, Julia is a writer in New York. Seeing Julia’s love of writing at an early age reminded me of my journals that I kept secret for so many years.
I’ve been teaching for a long time and the stories of students could go on and on. The real lessons that I learned were from my students. They always saw me as Mrs. Copher. They never noticed my race. They taught me empathy. They encourage me daily to drink more water.
As educators we are so busy. It is easy to miss a blessing right in front of you with your students. Sometimes you need to slow down and look at your class community and notice what lessons you can learn from them.
I am a better person because of the students that have crossed my path. Each one had a different story. Each one was unique. Each one was a blessing.