Dec. 1st, 2015

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We do so much to help develop and support the students we teach. “Our kids” we frequently call them; we glory in their accomplishments, and we feel their pain.

Last night, I witnessed a very public example of what our members do every day in our classes. I witnessed it sitting in the audience as a parent, not a teacher for a change, and I witnessed an outpouring of public support for our task that made me cry almost as much as the actions of the teacher and children on the stage.

My son’s school held their Winter concert last night. It was adorable, as most Christmas Concerts are, and all the students were very well prepared and well rehearsed. But what stood out the most was when the Grade 7s went to sing their songs.

Almost every Grade 7 sang a solo line, and sang them well. However, there was one boy who, when he went up, forgot his line in nerves. The music teacher had them there, and they were given to him immediately, but then he went to sing and had a frog in his throat that choked off his voice. The background music was recorded, and he couldn’t recover, and went back to his place, mortified. He stood the rest of the song on the riser with his head hung down, unable to look up.

My heart was wrung for the poor kid. To have failed at something so publicly, and so spectacularly, must have been agonizing.

At the end of the song, Mr. Sled, the music teacher, turned to the audience and said, “I think they can sing that again.” It was a statement that invited response, and the audience erupted in applause. I watched a hand from one of the kids in the riser behind reach out to ruffle the hair on the bowed head, the guy beside him give him a nudge of support, and then the music started again, and the first two soloists stepped forward to sing their lines.

When the line came to the student, he made it up, and he sang his lines beautifully, and he walked back to his spot on the riser to thunderous applause.

I was so proud of him. So proud of his overcoming that paralyzing sense of embarrassment. So proud of the success he achieved.

I think I fully realized last night why I am so passionate about Public Education, and the breadth of experience we fight so hard to keep. My kids aren’t just the ones in my classroom, though those are the most known to me. “My kids” are every single student in our school system, and the teachers and support staff are part of that extended school family.

So, to my “brother” Mr. Sled, congratulations on an excellent Winter Concert. It was beautifully organized in general, and that particular issue was handled as well as it was possible to be. Thank you for making visible to an audience our daily triumphs and miracles, and the dance we do to support each student and help them achieve their best.

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