I was not having a great evening on Friday night. I had been bogged down all week with work that I fell behind on while sick, I was feeling stressed and down about some classroom struggles we are experiencing, trying to help a student with ASD who is struggling right now, and feeling heart sick about a workshop I attended on Thursday about refugees and mental health. I think it's probably a bit of compassion fatigue, coupled with normal work-life balance struggles. Either way, I've been really feeling like there's not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to be doing to support students, and there's certainly not enough resources readily available to help to provide everyone with everything they need and deserve - healthy, adequate food, adequate, affordable housing, access to technology for home use, etc. (We are very lucky at our school that we have a breakfast program and our school board has a charitable foundation that donates thousands to help families in our community with their needs).
On Friday night, I was headed to the mall to pick up some things and my final stop was at the Walmart there, as it has the grocery section, which my local store doesn't. I was grabbing a few things for our household, but the primary purpose of my Walmart shop was to stock up on stuff for my students; I usually do this once every 2 months or so. I had just been on the phone with a very close friend, a fellow teacher, chatting about the emotional hardships of knowing how some of our students are struggling and the things that she and I both do to try to help.
As I was walking up and down the last set of aisles at Walmart, this young man, about 17-19 perhaps (?), turns around from facing one of the coolers (he later told me his mom had sent him to get a freezer lasagna and he couldn't find one!) and looks at my shopping cart - which was quite full.
"WOW!" He blurts out... clearly just spontaneous. "That's a lot of food". (For context, the demographic of this part of the city is mixed, but there's a significant community housing development nearby.)
I awkwardly laugh.
He says "Sorry! I didn't mean to be rude. That's just a lot of food for one shopping trip. You must have a big family".
At this point, due to the nature of his surprise, we'd attracted a bit of attention from surrounding customers.
So at that moment, I wasn't really thinking much and said, "Oh, actually, I'm a teacher and I like to stock up to have food and basic supplies for my students, in case they need food for lunches. Oh and all the cans are for our school's canned food drive!"
And he looks at me right in the face and says .... "Wow. Teachers do that? God bless you ma'am. God Bless. That's amazing... that's just amazing".
And so I thanked him and wished him well and went off to pay for my purchases.
And when I got to my car, I thought.... serendipity.
I had driven there that night, feeling pretty down... feeling like I wasn't doing enough, helping enough, changing lives enough... and then, along comes this situation... this young man... who gave me the opportunity to realize that maybe I'm not solving all of the world's problems, but I'm doing my own little part, and THAT'S worth something. He was there to deliver a message to me that night and I heard it loud and clear.
And so, the drive home was a little better than the drive there had been.
So to any of the teachers out there who might be reading this and might be feeling down, like I was.... inadequate, ill-equipped, over-extended, overwhelmed - you are doing a great job and the kids who you work with are so lucky to have you.
Throughout this journey of life we meet many people along the way. Each one has a purpose in our life. No one we meet is ever a coincidence.
- Mimi Novic
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!