Right before joining the Army in 1999, I taught 8th grade American Studies at what was considered a middle school in a low-income, disadvantaged neighborhood.
At the end of each school year, the grades would have awards ceremonies where the teachers would give out certificates to the students with the top grades in each subject.
To my surprise and delight, all the students in my classes had gotten together, chipped in on a cheap frame and printed out a certificate in the out-of-date computer lab at school.
One of the top students for that year asked to speak, and on behalf of the entire class I was named “Teacher of the Year.”
Forget the standing ovation I received from the students and my colleagues.
Forget the cheap frame.
Forget the flimsy piece of paper that the certificate was printed on.
Take away all that and you only have left what matters…
Just the fact that my students took the time to even think about presenting me with any kind of award at all is a priceless treasure that hangs on my heart always.
You can’t buy that kind of love and appreciation. I miss my students everyday and speak of them often… Yes, even all these years later. Sniffle.