Saturday, February 22, 2014

my role

I knew
from the moment
I decided
to cut my hair
that this was
going to be
a life lesson
a teachable moment

my role
in my classroom
is yes, to teach Art
but certainly
my lesson plans
expand far beyond
the edges of the paper
the tips of the paint brushes

I think every teacher
every person really
wants to make
a difference
and certainly
in small ways
in most ways
we all do
but when we find
the opportunity
the courage
to make a big difference
rare and lucky
are we to experience
the big reward

I never imagined
I'd be telling
a story like this
I never imagined
I'd get to see
I'd get to feel
the ripple effect
of how one person
can truly make
a chain reaction

We recently changed
semesters in school
I said good bye
to a group of  students
after 20 weeks
of instruction
and hello to
a new group
for the remainder
of the school year

knowing my old students
would see me
and my hair
after March 11th
I wanted to share
what the drastic change
was all about
before they left
my classroom
considering Nya's diagnosis
was in the Fall
they all already knew
her story
there was no way
I could teach
without them knowing
how my life was changing
in a season of change
even at that time
it created great
meaningful conversation
discussions of lives
effected by cancer

So I told them
and shared my poem
reminded all of those
middle school minds
that is was
not about the hair
it never will be
about the hair
it's about
the choice
the decisions
you make, daily
that come from
your heart
that effect people
and show them
your true self
your true colors
your true beauty
don't be afraid
be courageous
be inspired
some were shocked
some were in awe
some even shed a tear

I made a point
not to ask
for donations
yes, my family and friends
were being asked
to sponsor me
but all I wanted
from them
was awareness
and actions
be mindful
be beautiful
and I wished
them all well
as they walked
out my classroom door
for the final time

Now yes, I was
I figured maybe, a girl
might donate
her lunch money
and for that
I would be
touched and grateful
but actually
at the end of the day
on my desk
was a crumpled up
wad of money
that when opened
had a post-it attached
that read this...

signed, Jacob

I randomly
found him in the hall
and gave him
a hug
he had a shy smile
and a twinkle in his eyes
he was the quiet kid
with a heart of gold
I knew that
I've always known that
but I was blindsided

so of course
12 dollars
is a chunk of change
for a middle schooler
so of course
I called mom
shared this story
with her
offered to give
some or even all
of the money back
the thought alone
had filled my heart
overflowing with emotion
and pride, mom said
it is his money
it is all that he has
it is all that he earned
he can spend it
as he likes
and she couldn't think
of a better way
we laughed
we cried
we hung up the phone

about a week later
Jacob's schedule is different
he no longer has Art
he walks into my room
he hands me an envelope
inside a letter and money
my hands shaking
my heart pounding
my eyes filling with tears
I read about how...

his mother
so touched
from Nya's journey
by my actions
her son's donation
emotional after
our conversation
at work, her boss noticed
calls her into his office
checks to see all is ok
she continues to explain
he offers to donate $100
IF she cuts 6 inches
of her own hair
and... she does!!!
and adds more money
of her own
all that she can do
the least that she
can do
to help

and with that
again... I have
no words
to adequately express
the wave
the overwhelming
sense of gratitude
how people care
how good intentions
create courageous
kind actions

to everyone
who continues
to pray for Nya
the emails
the texts
the letters
the donations
I am
my family is
eternally grateful
the love and support
is what
Keeps us Smiling

my campaign
isn't over yet
if you are inspired
please consider
making a donation
I would be honored
I am humbled
by how my actions
are effecting
people's hearts
and helping to create
an easier journey
for our princess warrior
Nya Sophia


  1. On a daily basis I learn more from my students than I ever teach them. Still praying for Nya!

  2. So many prayers coming your way. I am so inspired by you and so proud to "know" you. (I feel like I don't need quotation marks there!) I can understand a tiny bit why you are doing this because I have 2 nieces and a sister and an overwhelming sense of them being my life, as well.

    All I can think is how proud your student's mom must have been when you called her. Is that the moment we all live for-to know we have been successful as parents?? Silly, but I keep thinking about that moment for her.

    HOW GREAT IS HER BOSS?? His mom must be proud, too.

    Please keep us posted because this burden is too much to carry alone. Let us be a part of your journey.

  3. Wow. I am so impressed by you, your words, your class, Nya. Powerful post, powerful little girl. You are amazing!


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