Many years ago I was a schoolteacher. I like to say that I spent four years of college knowing I wanted to be a teacher (and refusing to listen to the incredulity in people's voices when they found out that was my major)and my first two years out of college learning that was not my calling. The second year I taught I had a student named "W". As I was walking down the hall the first day of school, one of the other teachers said "I see you got "W" this year"--and it wasn't like I was lucky to have him. "W" had spent two years in first grade and was in his second year of second grade--and for all practical purposes he couldn't read. As would be expected of a child who was that far behind, he was a behavior problem; yet there was some goodness there that always struck me--and maybe I related to him because I too was struggling to do something at which I was not succeeding. I taught a lot of kids those years, but the only one I can say I've ever had a real interest in meeting again and seeing how he was doing was "W". Today I got my chance.
Quite a few times this last school year I've seen a school bus with "W"'s first initial and last name on it. The school busses here are owned by the drivers and their names are on them. I've wondered if that was him. Today as I was returning to my office from lunch, I saw W's bus turn into a gas station. I entered it as well, and went over to speak to him. Yes, he was my "W". I told him that I was glad to see that he had made it in life, and that he was one of the few kids I remembered, because he was such a nice kid. He said that besides driving the school bus he also owned a limo service and that God had blessed him with everything he needed. He said that now all he needed was a wife--that he hadn't had children yet because it wasn't right to have them and not be there for them.
I didn't ask him what he remembered of me. I do remember that we mailed out report cards that year and that I wrote letters to all the kids and put them in those envelopes. I wrote "W" a long letter, basically telling him he was good and congratulating him on what he did well. A friend I worked with told me that on the first day of school the next year he came looking for me, and was not happy not to find me there. There were times this overwhelmed young teacher was probably less than kind to that overwhelmed child so I hope his memories of me are not horrible. He was pleasant to me today, and seeing him made my day.