As I thought about whom to give this to, all the faces and names of everyone who have influenced me in some way obviously came to mind. I could give this to anyone of you honestly. But the name that just kept coming back time and time again was Justin’s, because he has done so much for me over the last 3 years.
Justin is the type of person who will drop everything they’re doing to help you out. 100% selfless. I remember as a first year teacher, he would check in on me all the time to see how I was doing. I don’t remember what we even talked about, but I do remember every time he left, I felt like I was a freaking awesome teacher, because he always made me feel that way, and still does whenever he checks in on me.
I remember my first time going to grade-level collaboration. I was looking over the printout of students who were struggling, listening to teachers voice their concerns over discipline issues they were having, how to get so-and-so engaged more, how to get so-and-so to come to class, or stop being so belligerent. As I listened to the names being brought up, and as I looked over this list, I realized that I didn’t have a single student on this list. What I also noticed was that Justin had every single one of them. I realized then that the subjects Justin and I taught, thanks in part to certain stigmas attached to them, attracted very different types of students. The only discipline issues I have are students wanting to talk too much. Other than that, 99.9% of my students want to get good grades and want to work hard. Justin, deals with a whole slew of issues that I don’t, and yet, he makes it work, without complaint, without pessimism. He is so dedicated to his students, wanting to challenge them, help them take accountability and responsibility for their success. He does such a good job with these students, that they come back and visit him all the time. The students that seemed to hate everything about school and teachers, coming back to visit Johnson, because he was able to connect with them, and helped them feel something while here at school.
Justin, your dedication to your craft and to the students you teach is exemplary. You’re the man and I appreciate you brother.