It Was Bound to Happen Eventually

As a school photographer, I take pictures at schools. It was only a matter of time before the school I student taught at would come up. I worried at first, given my history.

Fortunately, my initial anxiety proved unfounded — besides the customarily cool-blooded greeting I always got from a certain teacher, puzzled indignation from across the room by way of another, and an awkward, friendly joviality from the principal, taking pictures there was a blast. Of course, once word got around that I was on campus, and I use that cliche liberally, just a few familiar faces came up to say hello.

Four of my trouble students stopped by; since last semester, these now-juniors had decided to get back on track. As they left, I ensured they had their priorities straight.

You’re graduating; you’re going to college — right? All of them, unequivocally, gave me the right answer.

I accept it, because, as my master teacher had noted, even if they’re telling me what I want to hear, at least they’re hearing themselves say it. One of the students went as far as to say that I was his favorite teacher, and the reason he was doing better this semester, but I doubt it — his parents weren’t happy come open house, and he always did tend to gild the lily.

The long-haired pothead who played hooky more often than not, and was more than a little belligerent during my student teaching semester, got a buzzcut and earned a honor roll grade-point average this semester. Because he had the most dramatic turnaround, I took the time to get in one more piece of advice as he sauntered away:

Don’t aim for City College: Shoot for State.

What are you talking about? I’m shooting for Harvard.

That’s the spirit.


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