Earlier this summer I was invited to return to somewhere special.
I was invited to see some very incredible human beings do something pretty amazing.
This group of (now) young adults were a very special group of students.
And they were very special to me.
I had just come off of my worst year in teaching. I literally almost quit that summer.
And in walks this group of students: kind, intelligent, sincere, accepting. The list goes on.
At the end of the school year, I would walk away having the best year of teaching of my career.
At the graduation, the principal gave remarks about how this group was the easiest group to manage a graduation rehearsal with. They only had to hear the instructions once, and do the run through once, because “they just got it.”
I sat in my seat, huge smile on my face, and just nodded my head in agreement.
Because, yeah, that is this group.
I never had as strong of a connection with a collective of students as I did that year. Fitting, because it was at the end of this year of students that I would be named teacher of the year for our school, which led to me being named the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year, which opened the door to so many leadership opportunities that I could not have imagined.
To my students, I’ve been excited to watch so many of you post about your next steps, where you’re headed, what you will be doing. You were fine students in only the sixth grade, you’ve turned into fantastic young adults, and you will be outstanding leaders as you journey on.
Doug originally posted his reflections on social media, and the comments speak to the power of these relationships that extend beyond the classroom and beyond the school year.
One student posted:
Couldn’t have made it without you.
Another student posted:
Thank you for everything inside and outside of the classroom. You changed my life.
One mom posted:
Your name is spoken of often in our house when an influential educator is talked about. I’m so thankful for the gift that you have, and the ability you have to see the potential in students! You are an amazing person that truly leaves an impact on those around you, especially young lives! Thank you for always being your true self and just pushing young people to their greatest potential. I’m just sad that my youngest never got to have you in the classroom!!
Inside and outside the classroom, you were always supporting your students to grow to their full potential.
I know you had a huge impact on Cade! You were the reason he ran cross country and excelled at something he had never done before! You were the person he needed. I thank you for that. Thank you for being who you are and what you did for so many!
We are interested in learning more about the lifelong nature of teacher-student relationships this school year. We want to better understand how teachers change the lives of students, and how students change the lives of teachers.
Please post your stories on social media and tag us.