To my 8th, 9th and 10th grade students:
I never thought I would be a teacher—much less a high school math teacher. It had never been a career or job option for me. But somehow–very unexpectedly–I got this job offer to be a substitute math teacher for a month, and I strongly felt like this was the direction God wanted for me at the moment. I didn’t understand where He was taking me, though.
But I went with it. And I enjoyed it, even if it was exhausting many times. I, myself, didn’t understand the hard, physical, vocal and mental work that being a teacher requires. If I had known when I was a student, I probably would’ve been more empathetic.
But I know that you still don’t understand that. And that’s why you sometimes talk loudly during class, and I have to strain my throat so that my voice prevails over yours. Other times, I would have to make a superhuman effort to force my body to go to class, because I was really tired. A couple of times, I had to stay up until 3 in the morning preparing your exams for the next day, trying to be as fair and as easy on you as justice would allow. It was hard work, and some times I felt like I wouldn’t be able to make it through the month. But with the grace of God and a cup of coffee each morning, I was able to make it through each day.
And even all the late nights, all the hard work and all the exhaustion I went through wouldn’t ever make me regret taking this job. I never thought it would be as rewarding and satisfying as it is. I never thought I would become so attached to you in only one month. I never knew that I would feel so loved by you.
Even when you were misbehaving, even when you were not paying attention, even when I had to lecture you and take points off, I still felt loved. You didn’t hold a grudge, you’d make those silly jokes I couldn’t help but laugh at, you would insist on adding me to your bb messenger and facebook profiles, and ask me all those personal questions I wouldn’t answer.
I would secretly pray in my heart that I could show you love always, even when I was tired or mad, that you could feel like I treated you fairly, and that you would have good memories from this experience. I know I was the one who was supposed to teach you, but I learned valuable lessons from you. I learned that showing love, even if in small ways, makes a difference. I learned that diversity makes for an interesting world. I learned that there’s more to people than what we see, and that every person’s opinion is important.
Each one of you made my one-month experience as a math teacher unforgettable. I felt very loved, as I can’t even begin to describe. I felt very blessed and appreciated. I know that all of this isn’t because of anything I did. I know that God put a special “grace” on me; He gave me favor with you and with the authorities. And all the compliments I received, and all the hugs that you gave me, and all the nice things you said to me were only a result of Christ’s favor and His love through me.
My month is up. I am now leaving you. Though I am looking forward to a few days of rest, this goodbye is bittersweet because you’ve asked me over and over again to stay, and I wish I could. But this time, I really feel that that’s not the direction where the Lord is taking me. I feel like the purpose He had for this job was fulfilled, and this might sound like a cliché but I am a better person because of this experience, because I got to know each one of you and interact with you. I still don’t know exactly what was God’s purpose for my life with this job, but I hope that as life continues to progress, His plan unveils before me.
I wish you all the best! I hope that you are successful, but most importantly, that you choose to live life with God beside you every step of the way. It’s so much more worth living when He is with us. And lastly, I hope that whatever memory you have of me and my time with you is filled with happiness and love, because I will remember you fondly.
Love you and see you soon!