There are some students that stick with you. R was a fifth grader when I met him through City Year, and I ended up spending more time with him than any other student (thanks to a combination of factors).
We wrote to one another for almost two years. I sent him origami paper, and he made it into envelopes. One day one of the envelopes fell apart in transit and — I can’t remember why, but I didn’t have his address except for on those envelopes.
When I was cleaning out my things last week in my old room in my parents’ house, I found the last letter I had from him. Among other things, he told me that he hoped I would make a great teacher someday.
This week, on a last ditch effort, I checked for him on facebook.
I sent him a message.
He sent me one back.
I’ve thought about R for the last two years since the last letter, wondering if he was alright, how he was doing, what happened to him. When you change locations — homes, schools, states — your old students can’t poke their heads in and tell you how class is going, can’t wave to you from the bus, can’t even bump into you in the supermarket anymore.
I can’t tell you how happy I am. I don’t have a job. There’s no place for me in anyone’s school right now. The states that have jobs won’t take my certification. But I found R. He remembers me. We can talk again.
The world is a little better now.