Myself and another teacher started a running club at my school. This club is incredibly special because we have partnered with a New Orleans non-profit organization called Youth Run Nola (www.yrnola.org), an organization started by teachers to help empower low-income, NOLA youth through running. This club and partnership have both proved to have incredibly positive impacts for myself and our amazing runners. It also give us a chance to get to know other students in the school. We coach mostly 6th graders and neither of us teacher 6th grade. It is so much fun to see our kids smiling, learning and gaining confidence through running…something that we both love for ourselves as well.
I never imagined that this club would touch me that way that it has. Furthermore, I never thought there would be moments in the club in which I was reminded why I teach. Moments that make me want to go home and work twice as hard to become a better teacher. Moments in which I am reminding why I do this in the first place. These moments don’t always take place in room 306. Or even at school.
One such moment occurred today, in City Park, just before the 1 mile mark. I was running with Miguel, a bright, quiet, polite and very serious 6th grader on our teach. It was his first 5K ever and he told me his goal was to just have fun because “it doesn’t matter if you come in last.” We were running and chatting and when I asked him where he wanted to go to college he quickly (and seriously) replied “Harvard.” I encouraged him with a “WOW!” and he replied, “Or maybe Yale.” I then asked what he wanted to be. ”A lawyer.” YES! I thought to myself. I am so used to (and sick of) hearing my 8th graders say “Man, I don’t have to read ‘cuz Imma be a football pro.” It was exciting to hear Miguel’s aspirations.
We continued running for a few more silent steps and then Miguel added, “Then, when I get older…I want to be a judge. Well, not just any judge…a Supreme Court judge.” Wow. That is amazing aspiration for an 11 year old. Especially an 11 year old growing up in New Orleans and not attending a private or charter school. I promised Miguel that I would do everything I could to help him get into Harvard. I truly believe in Miguel and wanted to instill in him confidence to get the job done…just as he did with race. He didn’t walk once and had a hell of a kick at the end.
Thank you, Miguel. Thank you for inspiring me, not only with how you ran, but with your passion and confidence and dreams. Now…on to lesson plans.