Monday, April 13, 2015

Gone too soon.

Investing in students is our job as teachers.  If we're very fortunate, we connect with some of them on a level that creates long-time mentoring relationships, in which we become part of their extended community for a very long time. Sometimes we, as former teachers, are still a presence in lives and are invited to weddings and baby showers.  Those sorts of warm fuzzy accomplishments, and the associated invitations, create a sense of accomplishment for teachers, as we celebrate the next step in the successful futures of learners who we've followed from our past.

I teach in a rural community.  The township where I live has the most preserved farmland in the state, and farming is a way of life for many.  Yesterday, our lives were interrupted with the news of the untimely passing of a student who graduated last May.  His family are pillars in our community, and their children and extended family are interwoven in our district.

So every homeroom was read a formal statement, announcing the death of Jed.  Counselors were available for struggling students and faculty.  Social media blew up with prayers and memories last evening, and will continue for a while as those close to Jed, and his family, try to define the new normal.

Oh, and the farm?  Well, the farmers in the area were coming up the driveway before sunset last evening, with many hands to lighten the burden of the ongoing life on the farm.  Cows were milked, pigs were slopped, and, well, any of those other farmy things that escape my understanding.

Brave Faces.

 I didn't know this young man personally, but know many of his extended family.  When that is the case, it's a bit easier to be more objective, and to be available to support those who were intertwined with him.  He was a wrestler, and a thrower on the spring track team.  Kids who are involved in these two sports, in particular, develop a bond with their teammates and coaches that transcends understanding for many people.

Today was about checking on each other, volunteering to step into a classroom so someone could step out and breathe, and attempting to do "business as usual" when the day was so unusual.  We've been through this before, and we will, undoubtedly, be faced with it again, no matter how unfair it all seems.

The cows will still need to be milked, and the tests will still need to be administered.  For the next few days, we'll be a little more mindful of what we have, and what we've lost.

And take a few minutes to appreciate the sun on the farmland in this place we all call home.