As I settled into my seat on the NL bus for the morning commute to San Francisco a young man stepped up next to me and touched me on the shoulder. I looked up and saw a face exactly like a slightly older version of the face of one of my sixth grade students from Edna Brewer Middle School. He reached out to take my hand and leaned over to wrap his other arm around my shoulder in a gentle hug. Huge smile on his face.
I was right, this young man was that boy who had joined my class mid year on a safety transfer from another school. When he first arrived at Edna Brewer he was a little wary, and it took some time for me to gain his trust, and for the others in my class to welcome him. But he turned out to be one of the kids I enjoyed most in that class. He was funny, sharp, and a gifted athlete.
We chatted for a few minutes. He was on his way to school.
“Just two more months, Mr. Hurty,” he beamed.
Time flies…those sixth graders I taught during my first year as a teacher are graduating from high school this year. I made a mental note to find out the dates of graduation ceremonies so I can attend and see them walk the stage.
I asked if he had plans for college, and he named a couple of schools he was considering. He wanted to attend somewhere that he could play sports. I asked him about his classmates back in sixth grade. He had quick stories about each of them. One of the girls had a baby. One of the guys, also a good athlete, was struggling academically and wasn’t able to remain on the baseball team. Another was just as happy-go-lucky as he had been in sixth grade. I missed them all.
I asked about his mom and he said she was well and working hard. He said he had mentioned my name to her a few weeks ago, suggesting to her that she reach out to me to see if I could help get his younger brother into Edna Brewer.
“He’s so smart. He helps all the other kids at his school with math but his school just isn’t as good as Brewer.”
He asked for my number so we can stay in touch. Then he had to hop off to get to school. He gave me one more quick hug and said goodbye.