During my first year teaching, I was placed in a 2nd grade, mixed abilities class. 26 different personalities to deal with; add at least one parent to each child and that’s about a solid 50 or so people to deal with. I had to love my gig… At the time, I thought, “Okay, I’ll do this for a little while until I figure out what I’m really gonna do with my life!” So, here I am, a 23 y/o inexperienced, overconfident, rookie teacher wearing high-heels on the first day of school… I was uber cute too. (yellow sun dress, seafoam green BCBG pumps, hair long black and wrapped to perfection!)
I digress… On the first day of school, after going through the rules, giving out lunch numbers, and doing a series of pre-tests, I had the chance to just observe my students. Looking from the surface, they all seemed “normal”. All but one. Her name was Victoria (my close, close friends all know about Victoria from a Mike Jones story…) She spoke with slurred speech and had wet her pants within minutes of coming to school. Her parents were separated and her older brother would pick her up after school – that’s what her “father” (who I’d later learn was just another one of her mom’s series of boyfriends) had told me.
I spoke to my team leader about her… Next, I went to the counselor… then, to the Assistant Principal. It wasn’t until then that I found out that she was Mentally Handicapped. But why is she in MY class? I asked.
Listen, it was my first year and I’d already had a plan! This was supposed to be easy. I mean, I was a TEACHER, not a ROCKET SCIENTIST!
Needless to say, it wasn’t easy. Victoria had random outbursts, required a lot of attention and ALWAYS seemed to disappear after lunch. There were days I just let her go! I didn’t understand why they would put her in my class. I’m not trained to work with those kinda kids!
But as time passed, I realized something about Victoria. While she wasn’t like the rest of the class, there was something she possessed that made her unique. She loved without reason.
Even though there were days when I woke up not wanting to go to work because she’d be there most likely getting on my nerves, there was something about her that stayed with me…
I had an aha moment one day… I was cleaning up the classroom and I’d gone to sit down at my desk… There was something in my seat. A picture that Victoria had drawn. She was masterful with crayons and colored pencils and even thought she couldn’t write her letters correctly, she had God-given abilities to draw and color. Throughout the rest of her time in my class, she would always give me pictures and notes with her personal touches. The rest of the class had become attached to her and would request certain cartoon characters to be drawn for their leisure. In her excited state, she would whip up drawing after drawing – no matter if the person had teased her just minutes before.
Victoria left our school to go to a specialized center with smaller class sizes… She was with us for 3 marking periods (Dade County takes waaay to long to diagnose problems) and her impact on me was indescribable. Almost 3 years later, I still remember her… I’ve seen her at the grocery store with her family and she still remembers me…
Thinking back on Victoria’s free-spirit and willingness to make others happy reminds me that we must love without reason… Love because we are loved. God Is LoVe! 1John 4:16
Even when someone has hurt you, you should still love them. God will take care of whatever they’ve done to you, but it’s your job to love! Love covers a multitude of sin…
If I haven’t told you today, or ever, I LOVE YOU!
Go out and love somebody else! Love like a kid again.