Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Aloha, Indeed

Today I learned of the death of a former student. She delighted me daily, as did her mother, a dependable, selfless volunteer at school, in spite of her failing health and struggles with limited mobility.

I'm no good at mourning, so I decided to send this letter to her folks.

Dear Bowers Family:
Little boys and girls grow up. This is something we elementary school teachers know, but the turmoil of twenty-plus kids in our daily care forces us to focus on the moment. We know that the little girl we teach today will become the young woman of tomorrow. She will move on, but sometimes she remains frozen in our minds as she was back when. Some students we think of often, wondering about the today of the joyful child from yesterday. Such are my memories of the precocious ‘tween Kiana.

Blessed with the chance to teach Kiana in her sixth grade year at Paterson, I witnessed the spirit of the young woman getting ready to burst onto the scene. She practically glowed with enthusiasm with every new adventure. As her Writing and English teacher, I was allowed a special peek at her aspirations. She wrote of joyful parties, endless sunshine, and her anticipated adventures in the car of her dreams, the VW Bug. She embraced our weekly “Show Don’t Tell” writing challenges, and each time came up with a clever story to capture the imagination of her classmates. Kiana recognized her own strengths, tackled her struggles, and generously gave of herself for others with a constant smile on her face. That reminds me a lot of her mom.

With today’s news I am stunned with shock and sense of loss. Kiana, at age twelve, was an energy field who lit up everyone around her. My one hundred and eighty days as her teacher were a gift. Thank you, Bowers family, for sharing her.

Judy Gould


MJ said...

They will treasure that letter, I imagine. What a gift of good memories.

I've not had this milestone yet and don't look forward to it when [if] it happens.

Cora Spondence said...

You took the worst of all occasions and gave it light and love with your words. I'm sure her parents will embrace that letter.

DiaBelo said...

Someone who "crossed oceans with relationships" must have been very special indeed. Your letter shows that not only does the teacher touch and influence the student, but so the student reciprocates to the teacher.