This is the time of year where I think a lot of us do some reflecting on where we are and how we got to this point in our lives. My story is a long one – I often tell my kids that if I went through all the bizarre twists and turns that brought me to San Antonio nine (!) years ago, it would sound like the pulpiest of fictions. But, here I am and I think it’s high time I gave some thanks. The list will be a long one and, like anything of this sort, I will leave some people out that certainly deserve to be here – and for that I apologize. Every person that has crossed my path, however briefly, has resulted in me sitting here at my laptop writing – so thanks to you all. But I would be remiss if I didn’t make something of a list.
I’ll start off with my family. I don’t think it’s any secret that we are not the closest of clans, but they have always been supportive of me moving all over the place, sometimes on not much more than a whim, to scratch that itch in the middle of my back that seemed to happen every couple years. I don’t show my appreciation to Dennis, Jacqueline and AC as I should and that is nobody’s fault but my own. Thank you for dealing with all my shortcomings as a son and brother.
Next up are my friends, both near and far, old and recent, coworkers and otherwise. The entire Dean family – Jason, Jen, Jut, John, Bill and Charlene – showed me how a family could persevere through alarming obstacles, all with a sense of grace and humor. Doodie, Kelly, Glenda and Tony showed me that it was ok to have a good relationship with people that I worked with. Brad, Joe and Kevin showed me that work was not the most important part of the job and that you could have a good time doing your job (sometimes too good of a time? J). Rufus and Jeri, administrators at the first school I taught at, for showing me what every school administration should strive for. Thanks to Chris, Suzanne, Jason, Scott, Sandra, Alita, Megan, Jennifer, David, Christie, Rose and the rest of the ‘initial’ faculty of Brooks Academy for helping a first year teacher that didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground find his feet. Everything I do in the classroom is an echo of things I learned from you. My cycling crew – Paulie, Kay Lynn, Sarah, Jimmy, Keith, Eric, Super Dave and the Bat Cave bunch – you’ve each helped me along so much, and I don’t just mean your patience with me on the bike. We don’t always agree on politics and such, but it doesn’t take away from our friendship, for which I am grateful. To Roomy Dave for dealing with me as a roommate for a few years and still staying in touch. Rob Berner, Garrett Wood, David Poag – I think you guys were sort of my first ‘students’ back in the day. I am so happy that I have been able to see you progress in each of your lives and am thankful that you don’t get too upset at my lack of communication. I cherish your friendship more than I could possibly express but it doesn’t excuse the fact that I don’t tell you that enough.
You might want to go get a glass of water or something because this next part will be a long one. Each of the people I named above, and countless others, have shaped the person I am. But there is no group that has done more than my students. I knew I would be a teacher at some point in my life, but it didn’t make my first day back in August 2007 any less terrifying. Some of these kids might even remember me and talk about that crazy math teacher to their kids, but even if that doesn’t happen , I would not be the person I am without their influence. Each of you continue to inspire me to be better every day. Again, I will leave some names out but that is purely a function of my lack of memory, not from a lack of influence.
From my first year at Brooks Academy, Eric S, Alex Z, Ralph C, Amaris, Jacob P, Ethan, Kelly, Raul, Tori, Nicole, Cameron, AJ, Victoria and all the rest, I know I wasn’t the teacher you deserved for Algebra, but thank you for dealing with my weirdness and over-willingness to get sidetracked. Richard D, Chase D, Jordan R, Thomas R, Josh A, Tristan, Tyler, Jonathan H – thank you for still trusting me and humoring me by getting a bite to eat or just sending a text now and then. To my kids from Kazen – Marco, Alex, Gustavo, Jessica, Brandon, Denise, Eli and many others – thank you for giving me a reason to survive my year in a middle school. Without you, I seriously may not have made it through to where I am now. To my kids from my first year at Holmes – Jonathan G, Allie R, Eric G, Marcos R, Sean C and others – thank you for making my transition to a huge public school much smoother than it could have been. To all my students that have been in my room since that first day in 2007: some of you have said that I have been some sort of influence in your life and I have no words for what hearing that means to me. But rest assured, you’ve helped me much, much more.
There are a few more students that I need to thank in a little more detail. Some have been out of high school for a few years already, a few are still in school. For whatever reason – back to the whole fate, karma, or luck thing – they seem to still want me around and continue to trust me with things that might have nothing to do with math. Instead of worrying about the order, I’m just going to keep typing because each of these guys know where they stand with me. I just want to let everyone else know where they stand too.
To Darrien and Efrain, who were the subject of a previous blog post called ‘Obstacles’, thank you for allowing me to help you along your path to college and beyond. You did not have to place your trust in me and let me in to some details of your life, but you did. I only hope I have given you good advice and counsel that will in some small way begin to repay that trust. The two of you are a true depiction of what an individual can do in spite of overwhelming odds to the contrary. You have become part of a pretty special group. To Lucas, thank you for allowing me to help you find your voice and possibly a better understanding of your motivation. Your self-confidence and desire to succeed is something many kids could learn from.
To Tim and Gilbert – you have more things in common than a lot of people know, including being owed an apology from me. I probably pushed you too hard to go to a school that wasn’t the best fit for you. My intentions were good, but you know what they say about those. Regardless of that, you still let me be a part of your life. Thank you for keeping your faith in me through these years. To Michael H, thank you for the note you gave me on my last day at Brooks. I think leaving there was so hard because I didn’t know if I would ever see any of you again after that day. That note told me otherwise. I know I’ve been annoying at times, but thank you for coping with it, understanding, and for being honest about being annoyed. To Michael Y, thank you for allowing me to give you some emotional support over the last eight years – from the evening of your talent show to completing scholarship and college applications to talking about the stress of exams and interviews. Each of those times, I never told you anything you didn’t already know, but you let me tell you anyway. Saying I am thankful the four of you are in my life is an understatement akin to saying oxygen is important for breathing. But any other words are escaping my grasp so it will have to do. While I call all of my students ‘my kids’, that has an even greater meaning when I talk about you. When I need someone other than my cat to talk to, I know you are each a call or text away.
After nearly 1500 words, I’m pretty well spent. I again apologize if you read through this and didn’t see your name – rest assured you have helped me become the person I am. I think I’m a pretty good person and that would not have happened without each of you. I wish you all a restful and happy Thanksgiving.