The Reason Why

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I wrote this post last week on the plane heading home from learning with and from the network of kindred spirits that make up Learning Forward, the national organization for professional learning. These are literally my peeps. My head and my heart are full…and so is my blog queue.

I wrote this post, but didn’t post it. I wanted to keep it for myself and test it out. I hope when you try it on, you will want to keep it for yourself too.

I can not begin to tell you how many times I am asked why I do the work that I do.

  • Do you miss the campus?
  • Do you hate being removed from kids?
  • Don’t you wish you had students of your own?

In the very last keynote by Hanrie Han, the final learning event for me, I was presented with the most poignant and accurate explanation I have ever heard of why I do the work that I do. I listened. I cried big crocodile tears. I felt like the only one in the room her message speaking directly to my heart.

As she wrapped up her speech, she shared with us the very personal story of her son. She began by telling about his name, its significance and history, the hopes she had for him, and how the anticipation of his arrival had impacted her small family. I was immediately  and completely drawn into the story as my own redheads have meaningful name stories and I was enjoying our shared experience until she revealed that her little one had died. No explanation. Just hours after he was born.

While Hanrie spoke music began to play in the background that I could have completely ignored, until she drew our attention to the rhythm, the unmistakeable rhythm of a tiny heartbeat. The song, playing as the soundtrack to her talk, was composed by her cousin, around the music of her son’s in-utero heartbeat. As a mother, my heart broke with hers as she so vulnerably shared her experience. And then, as she was talking about hearing her son’s heartbeat she let a sentence hang in the air:

“That is when I learned that I could love someone that I have never met.”

She ended her speech by connecting her story to the remainder of her keynote, to the heartbeat of our work that sings, and to those we serve that we will never have the chance to know.

  • Do you miss the campus?
  • Do you hate being removed from kids?
  • Don’t you wish you had students of your own?

The truthful answer to all of those questions is “yes”! I do miss it, but I know I am in the right spot.  I have never had a way to fully explain this answer in a way that completely revealed my heart until I heard her speak.

I love each and every one of the students that I serve…I LOVE them (all 55,000 of them). “All of our kids are all of our kids”, is not just a saying. I don’t have to know their names or see their faces to know that I love them. They make me want to get up in the morning, their success wakes me up in the middle of the night, what they need keeps me going.

I always knew that this was true when I was in the classroom and on a campus. I couldn’t wait to see my class list to find out all the kids that would become my own the minute they walked through the door. I loved them before I knew them…and for now, I will love my students even though I may never know them.

And because I love our kids, I love the adults who serve them (all 7,000 of them). They challenge me to learn.  They motivate me to work harder and do more. Their growth and success gets me out the door in the morning.

So for those who I love, but I do not know…I am still learning…