A young black man opened my classroom door on Monday and called my name before stepping inside. My kindergartners were at P.E. and I was alone, wading through my school email. I immediately recognized the face if not the six foot (plus) body of my former kindergartner, Z. I wasn't expecting him. We had not seen each other in over seven years, but when he grinned, I knew it was Z.
Z. is the third of five children and the first I taught, before following up with the younger two in other years. I remember him as such a sweet child and that sweetness was still very apparent today as he hugged me. He said he wanted to come and see me. He said he is working on his GED at a local high school and is now eighteen. He hopes to attend the community college for two years and then go to college somewhere.
We found someone with a camera to take our picture.
His mother and younger sister were waiting in the car in the parking lot. I walked out with him to see them. I hugged his mama and clasped hands with his sister through the windows. His mama told me in detail things I had long forgotten that I had done to help her family. As I thought about them over the afternoon, some of those memories did return. She said, "You'll never know how much you meant to our family."
And she'll never know how her words (and her children) touched my heart.