Talking with teachers

I was asked to speak at The Retired Teachers of Rhode Island’s annual meeting this year. I was worried about what to say, didn’t  think teachers and firefighters had all that much in common. My worries were unfounded, turns out we have the most important thing of all in common; the desire to help others.

They wear nice clothes; we get dirty. They speak eloquently; we tend to swear. They do their best to reach the people in front of them, and so do we. Sometimes all they do is not enough, and the ones who need them the most slip through their grasp.

We know how that feels.

I thought it would be amusing to stand in front of a group of teachers, right after lunch no less, and bore them to sleep. Instead, each and every one listened with rapt attention as I talked about the kids we had in common; the ones that were forgotten, abused and neglected. 

I told them about myself, the worlds worst student, 1.89 GPA, lack of college education and all, and my refusal to give any teacher the satisfaction of reaching me. But reach me they did.

And I told them that even though it appeared I was lost, something clicked in my semi conscious young mind, and I managed to make something of my life in spite of myself.

I wonder sometimes about the people we save, but more often I think of the ones we lost. We are told we can’t save everybody, and I guess that is true, but it was kind of nice to let people who do their best to get through that sometimes they succeed, even though it seemed like a lost cause.


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