It happens. If you are a teacher long enough, one of your students - or former students - dies. We got word today that one of our graduates from last year was killed in a car wreck on his way to start college. Those are all the details I have, and as devestating as that is in itself for his family, I hope the circumstances are not worse for them.
I've been a teacher for a good while, now. With experience, I've found that ALL my students hold the potential for a bright future. They go places, and they do things. Awesome things. It has taught me to value them more, even though that potential may not be showing through when I meet them in class. The young man we lost glowed with that potential, though. He wasn't popular, nor did he care to be. He was, however, confident, and he seemed to always have a smile on his face. He read. and he read. and he read. He was a student aide in the library, of all the perfect places. And he graduated.
I got to watch him cross the stage, and wave at his family, and start the rest of his journey through life, with all that shiny potential radiating through that smile. So now, I grieve. For this student who I taught, and talked with, and greeted on my way into the building. I'm sad for his family, and the loss of their child. Memories of his childhood, and hopes for the adult that was promised. I'm sad for this loss of potential. Because we need it.
Go in peace young one.