Hello, God. Welcome to My Classroom

Blessings in Return

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 19, 2012

I get to know to some degree which of my students are Christians, churchgoers, or non-believers throughout the year. One time, a simply act of kindness led me to a great discovery, which in turn made me feel so much better about a certain situation.

One year, I had a student who was very quiet, sometimes belligerent, but tried really hard in class. The concepts and skills did not come easily to him, but he normally tried to do his best. He was a “cool” kid who had a reputation to maintain, and sometimes schoolwork and homework didn’t fit into that reputation, but he succeeded in creating a balance between the two fairly well. He lived at home with his older sister who was out of school and working. His father wasn’t in the picture, and his mother had died the year before I had him as a student. He and I shared a good relationship as teacher and student, but he didn’t open himself up much. I was sure the abandonment from his father and the loss of his mother made it hard for him to commit to many people. I, too, would be out of his daily life after one year, so why invest his emotions in me?

As the weather turned colder with winter’s approached, he frequently came to school with an overpowering smell permeating his clothing. I knew where he lived, in a very ramshackle, unkept house with the porch cluttered with abandoned and discarded household items. I started noticing smoke rising from his house daily, and I realized any warmth in the home was being generated by a wood stove. The house didn’t have central heat, or maybe they couldn’t afford to pay for it. Some teachers and students commented on the smell. One even said it smelled like burnt meat. I felt so badly for my student. At school, he held his head high. I wondered if he was able to do so at home.

I grew up outside of Kansas City, and I’m still an avid fan of the Chiefs. One day, my student showed up in a ratty KC Chiefs jersey. It was a great conversation starter for the two of us, and I told him I had a KC sweatshirt I rarely wore because of how big it was on me. I asked if he would wear it if I gave it to him. He said yes but without much enthusiasm. I wondered if he felt it an act of charity or if it embarrassed him. I made certain to bring the shirt in a plain grocery bag and slipped it to him unnoticed by his peers. He mumbled thanks and it wasn’t mentioned again.

After a weekend passed, he appeared in my classroom with a card for me. It made me so happy to realize I had touched him enough to prompt a kind gesture in return. When I opened the card, I was even more pleased. The front of the card said, “May God Bless You.” The card still hangs on the wall behind my desk for all to see. God did bless me that day by assuring me my student had a foundation of faith to stand on during all the hard times he was facing and would face in the future. I pray he is still standing firm in His presence.


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