During the holidays, I had time to reflect, and I want to share a story of giving I would not have experienced if it were not for being a teacher. Despite policy debates, funding problems, evaluation reforms, at the heart of education are our students. And this is a story that reminds us how worth it they all truly are.
I have known Harmon and Anthony since they were in first grade. As sixth graders now, they have organized a charity event each year at our school. I always look forward to what they come up with, and I am always impressed with the thoughtfulness and generosity they create that spreads to all around them. For example, I pulled up to school one morning a few years ago, and was met by a huge Bonfills Blood Mobile donation truck camped in our parking lot. A giant banner announced, “Blood Drive Today!” When I walked into the front office to inquire why this was happening, the extraordinary answer was that Anthony and Harmon came up with this idea as a way to help others in need. If second graders could collaborate with their parents, our staff, and the professionals at Bonfills, then I could roll up my sleeve and support the cause.
This is the attitude that I have taken every year since. With the prompting of these boys and the help of their friends, our school community has raised money for Children’s Hospital, breast cancer research, and wounded veterans, among other various fundraisers.
It will be a bittersweet moment when the boys graduate from our school in May and make the transition to middle school. I have no doubt that they will continue to create opportunities for those around them to help others. They are not only helping specific populations targeted in their work, but they are inspiring others who are helping them to take initiative and show kindness. Even though Harmon and Anthony’s fundraisers will leave with them, I am hopeful that this attitude will continue in future years among our students because their leadership and generosity has influenced other students who are eager to create other opportunities to give.
It is in these moments that I take a deep breath and give thanks to be in a profession that allows children to learn from one another how to help those in need! It is the best gift a teacher can ask for. It leaves me with hope and inspiration because I am confident there are many Harmons and Anthonys in so many communities waiting for an opportunity to shine.