Portrait of a Former Student

Last night, I was tidying up my blog by categorizing posts into groups consistent with the phase of my career during which they were written. I started this blog on the eve of 2010, thinking it would cover photography, cooking, and teaching, erroneously and embarrassingly fancying myself as someone worth reading when I had no expertise in anything. It has evolved a lot since then, and as I was poring over some old posts, I was recalling some of the things that have happened in my classroom since I first welcomed a handful of readers into it. It was truly a pleasure to find myself saying, “Huh, I remember that” as I read, and doing so helped me realize just how much has gone on in my rooms since I began blogging. It’s impossible to get a handle on it all when you’re in the thick of it, so the blog provides me a nice time capsule and opportunities to reminisce.

One of my regrets was that I never had the opportunity to blog about my first year. It was all so fresh to me and I had a really unique group of students with wonderful stories to share. I wasn’t turned on to Twitter and blogging until the middle of my second year, though. And so, I thought it slightly ironic to be walking outside the school playground to my car this afternoon and hearing my name being screamed by a bolt of black clothing running toward me. Turns out it was one of my old favorite students from way back in my first year.

Normally, when a former student and I cross paths, they are so reluctant to speak that the only word that they are able to muster in response to anything I say is, “Good.” I had seen this girl once or twice since she graduated, but never did we have the chance to speak, either because of her shyness or just the fact that we were passing too quickly. But today she was so excited to talk that she practically climbed over the chain link fence.

We talked about how school was and who she’s still friends with. I remembered her motivation to learn photography and in our very brief previous conversations she indicated she was the official photographer for her sister’s wedding. As it turns out she’s taken on more photographic responsibilities: a cousin’s communion and documenting her niece’s first days. She is so into it.

My assistant principal told me during the first year of The Mosaic Project that giving the kids cameras was like giving them gold. In the case of at least one former student, it appears the investment was a good one.

One response to “Portrait of a Former Student

  1. It’s situations like this one that reaffirm the reason that we teach. It reminds me of my favorite quote by Henry B.Adams: “A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops.” What a wonderful story, that based on your Mosaic Project of 3 years ago, this young lady is using the skills that she learned in photography and she has found a voice in the process. You shared your passion for photography with her and she, in turn, is sharing her passion with her family. The possibilities are limitless.

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