One of the nicest dinner invitations I have ever received came from a student’s family, a number of years ago. Every conversation I had with this little girl’s mom was kind, encouraging, and supportive. We spoke often, and after our parent-teacher conference, she asked if I would please come to their house for dinner. I was delighted to accept, and my small student was beyond excited to think that her teacher would be visiting her house.
The evening of the dinner, I was treated to a delicious meal of enchiladas while also meeting the family pets–three chihuahuas, one with new puppies. We laughed and talked around the dinner table, and even passed around a family photo album while D’s father told stories from “the old country”. His use of that phrase made me smile, because that was exactly how my own grandma referred to her homeland after emigrating to the United States. She spoke of the Netherlands with the same reverence that this man was speaking of Guatemala. The meal and stories that we shared that evening are one of my most cherished memories of my time as a teacher.
Today, while waiting in line at Subway, I realized that this student and her mother were in line ahead of me. What a treat to see them again after so many years had passed! When she was a little girl, she was a delightful little sprite who danced through the door into first grade each day. She loved to read and was eager to learn. It came as no surprise, then, to hear about the top grades she is earning in her advanced classes at the high school. Her happy smile is still the same, even though now she is a sophomore instead of a first grader. We both reminisced about that long ago meal that we shared–chihuahua puppies and all–and we laughed about the stories we told. Now the oldest sister is off in college and my student is already planning her own career path. I’m so pleased for her and proud of her! As teachers of young children, we don’t always get to know “the end of the story” when our students grow up and move out into the world. So it is extra-special when I not only hear good things about a former student but actually get to have a little reunion! This chance meeting put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.