We'd known for months that "Lewis" was leaving. His aunt worked with the pipeline and they were getting ready to head back home to Michigan in a few weeks when her work here was done. He and his brother had been enrolled months after school started. This was their third school in one year. Lewis was in Kindergarten. His brother was in first grade.
Within the first week of him being with us, Lewis' teacher shared concerns about him with me and our counselor. He was very low (academically) coming in. He didn't know how to write his name. He only knew a few sounds. He didn't know how to count. More frightening was the fact that nothing seemed to "stick" with him. Though she was very worried\, she was even more concerned about him leaving our school to return back to the school he had come from.
Lewis was a quiet little guy. I don't think I've ever heard him speak. From the time I greeted him on his first day of school to today (his last day,) he never uttered a word. Keeping this in mind, I made a conscious decision to acknowledge him every time I saw him. At lunch. In the hallways. When I picked up my child from after school care. I made sure I always said hello to him. I knew his situation was delicate and that he had been transient and probably would continue to be, but I wanted to make sure his time with us was special. I wanted him to remember this school and our community no matter how many other schools he would attend after he left us.
The time came for Lewis to be withdrawn from our school. I overheard his aunt talking to the ladies in the front office one Tuesday. I came out of my office to say my final goodbyes to him. He wasn't in school that day, but he came up to get his supplies and visit his teachers one last time before heading out of state.
His teacher raced down to the office to see him. He beamed with pride, the most emotion I've ever seen on his face, when she walked through the door. I am not sure if the "fuss" being made over him caused this, or if he was just proud of his "regular clothes" that he had on (all of our students wear uniforms to school.) His aunt mentioned that he had picked out his own clothes for the occassion.
Very quickly, all of his paperwork was finished and he was free to leave with is aunt. His teacher got down on her knees, looked him in the eye and expressed to him how much she would miss him. She gave him a few things to continue to work on when he got back "home" and reminded him to be a good boy. She them hugged him really tight and became transparent.
Holding it together only long enough for him to exit the doors, she broke down. She expressed how much progress he had made in the last couple of weeks and how worried she would be about him from this point on. We talked about him for a few more minutes, just long enough for her to compose herself.
Every school should be filled with teachers who possess this type of passion. Passion for what they do and passion for the students they serve. Every student teacher should be placed with a cooperating teacher who still exudes this type of passion for teaching. Passion of this degree has to become contagious, spilling over to teachers who have forgotten why they chose teaching as a career in the first place...spilling over to "neophyte" teachers who might be overwhelmed and on the verge of a breakdown. This sort of passion must run rampant throughout all of our buildings. Without it, we are merely executing a task.
I know Lewis is somewhere, in another state, still thinking about his teacher and his friends in Texas. I also know his teacher probably never stopped thinking about him since he left.