For me, it was Paul. It was my first year teaching and I was teaching in an inner city school made devastated by poverty and district neglect. The students had been neglected by their own community and shoved into this underfunded, under-served school whose staff was the only consistency in their lives. And in walks Paul. Paul, only 3 weeks in America, who walked into our classroom of struggle bringing a light with him. He came from a village in Nepal, and when I asked why his parents moved to the United Streets, in broken English, he said people were getting shot in the streets so they snuck out with help from different countries. He told me rainbows made water poisonous to man, then we played with prisms in science class, and he learned otherwise. When his classmates were down he would do backflips in the center of the room to make them smile. My husband and I took him and friend to the Exploratorium and there he pedaled his way to making a lightbulb activate. It activated his imagination too.
I recently heard from Paul who wrote about me in his college essay. I had been his introduction to education in this country and his writing spoke about the importance of teachers who make an impact. Little did he know how much impact he also made upon me too.
But these kids are in every school and in every classroom. It's just that sometimes teachers don't see them through our own day-to-day struggles. Please share your stories. In so doing, you'll be sharing the memory of those kids with us as well.