I have often said that the hardest part of teaching is a multitude of things that aren’t the hardest part of teaching at all. Today the hardest part of teaching happened.
When I teach, and I assume it is the same or similar for other teachers, I give my heart and my soul to my students. There is me in everything that I do. Even as I’ve aged and seem colder, my heart and my soul are still given to my kids in every exchange. Even the angry ones.
I love the kids. I wouldn’t have survived this long without the love I feel for them. My classes and the school’s students are more often than not in my thoughts. If someone is having a bad day I reflect on them and wonder about them that night. I am invested. All good teachers are.
At times, it is frustrating. Today, it is heartbreaking.
I became a teacher because I wanted to save the world. I figured education was the best way to achieve this. Over the years, I settled for saving my part of the world and hoped to inspire my kids to see the beauty that is possible. I help kids because they are precious to me and valuable to our world. They truly are our blessings and our saviours.
And today, I found out that we have lost one. His oldest brother was one of my babies from 2001-6 when I was a Year Advisor. And as a Year Advisor you get to know the family, and you keep an eye on/out for the younger siblings. In a way, they all become part of your heart. Of your family.
And so, it came to be that I have watched all four boys grow up and mature; each with their own brand of cheeky and mischief, all with beautifully loving hearts. Nick is the youngest of the four. There are younger siblings; I do not know them.
Nick could be respectful and funny and silly and smart, and during his last months as a student at Reddall, was really maturing into the man he could have become. But he died yesterday.
And this morning, when I was told as I entered the room for our Professional Learning, my heart stopped. I put my bag down, feeling oblivious to the news, grabbed my tissues, and stepped outside to process the news. And cried.
What the fuck.
And questions swirl through the brain. Memories surface. Conversation after conversation trying to get him to do the right thing in Music for his teacher. Reconciling beautiful Nick with feral Nick.
And I have to laugh. He got up to some silly things. Funny as, but not always appropriate. And as a Head Teacher, I could wryly grin and tell him to pull his head in as he grinned at me, daring me not to laugh with him. And he adored, worshipped, loved his brothers. All with their own Douglas cheek. And my heart breaks for them, and for his parents.
What a tragic loss to our world. To their worlds. To our school. And to his friends.
It was hard not being able to be at work today, in our community, grieving with the kids and staff. It was hard contacting staff that have left that know him. It is hard to continue doing this. It is just hard.
And so wrong.
There have been too many souls lost. And the loss doesn’t get easier. And each time, you remember each and every one.
A teacher’s heart never stops loving it’s students. Never.
I am sorry, Nick, that we couldn’t have done more and that you are no longer here in this world with us. I am sorry that we will never get to see that cheeky up to no good grin again. I am so sorry.