I’ve said it before, one of the great rewards of teaching is getting to watch kids learn and grow up. And to take that a step further, seeing those “kids” as grown-ups can be just as rewarding. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and coaching with a few former students. A few have managed to keep in touch over the years. And there is always the random meeting in a grocery store or at an education conference. I had a few hours of extra special reward watching the Super Bowl last Sunday. I can take no credit for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall’s athletic prowess. Nor did I ever have him in a class while we were both at Niles West H.S. I did, however, spend a few years helping him (and many others) make videos for their classes. I also got a chance to stretch his editing skill and mine when we put together a personal highlight film for his Army H.S. All-Star team application. And I’m proud to say that he, like many others, eagerly encouraged teachers to allow a video in place of a PowerPoint presentation and was more than happy to share his expertise in video production any time he was in the lab and a fellow student needed a hand. I haven’t talked to him since his press conference declaring for the draft, but from what I’ve seen on TV and picked up through the grapevine, the talented, hard-working, well behaved H.S. student I knew has grown into a well paid, talented, hard-working, well behaved NFL player who writes poetry (makes sure you click through to Page 2). As he put it, “There’s a stigma about being an athlete. If you try to do something else, then people will ask, ‘Why?’ It’s like you can’t be more than one thing.”
Very rewarding! Now I wonder which former student I should name drop in my next post – the first Steve Martin banjo award winner (yes, Skokie, IL turned out a world-class, bluegrass banjo player) or the Victoria Secret model?
What will students get from you for their lives in the 21st century?