By: Lara Winburn
With the constant stream of back to school photos and the herds of rushees flowing through campus, I started thinking about the future school days ahead for my little ones. I also remembered a valuable lesson I learned in the past.
First let me say this: I was in a sorority in college. I will not do a chant now or tell you the secret handshake, but I will tell you some of my best friends today wore those same Greek letters across an oversized t-shirt. Say what you want about sororities, but for me these girls are some of my best friends ten (plus) years later. For that, I will defend the choice some make to join. But as I drove around downtown Columbia, I remembered my role years ago, as a sort of rush advisor to this large group of mostly freshmen girls their first week of college. I tried to help these girls navigate this brutal process called Rush.
*Side note* (I do not have a solution for the brutality of Rush. I do not know how you meet hundreds of girls at a few 30-minute visits and decide if they are a “good fit.”)
Anyway, I got to know these girls. I met their mothers, aunts and sisters. I cheered when they were happy and dried tears after the sorority they chose did not extend an invitation. Most of these girls had a mom that thought they were smart, clever, pretty and funny, and some group of 18-22 year old girls may or may not agree. That week of college it hit home to me, as I truly appreciated that each girl was somebody’s daughter.
After college, I taught second grade. I loved teaching, bulletin boards, lesson plans, and I loved the kids. Without sounding boastful, I am pretty sure I was a good teacher. I was patient, dedicated and fun. I spent a lot of time thinking about engaging activities and how to deliver lessons in the most effective way. But there was one thing I was not; I was not yet a mother or an aunt or a godparent.
As the school year progressed, my students’ true selves started to shine. Like anything in life, some true selves mesh better than others. (Even in a classroom.) I feel certain EVERY teacher has had students they enjoyed and some students who were more of an acquired taste. But an older and much wiser teacher reminded me that these precious second graders – even when they were not being precious – “they were somebody’s son or daughter.” Those annoying little habits or that whiny baby voice might make my day a little more challenging, but those same habits were to someone, somewhere, endearing. That student in my class was someone else’s most wonderful gift. On some days when I had called the same little girl down 172 times, I would simply tell myself, “She is somebody’s daughter.” I think you will find that is a mantra the best teachers live by.
So for teachers, students and, heck, just human beings maybe the lesson is: I should just go through life trying to remember everyone is somebody’s daughter or son. And if you already do this, would you occasionally remind me?