Before you keep reading this post, I have a warning for you. This post is sappy. Like the these-are-the-reasons-I-do-what-I-do kind of sappy. Like my-coworker-and-I-have-cried-at-work-every-day kind of sappy. Consider yourself warned.
My students are amazing. I keep thinking that I've met the most amazing student in the world and that no one could match their story, and then I talk to another student. This week has been intense, to say the least. My coworker, Miriam, and I get to work around 8am and work until 9pm every day, and just when we think our sleep must be more valuable than making a poster with directions about how to make a paper fan on them, one of our students come in and remind us why we come to work every day. They remind us why we sacrifice sleep and meals to make sure we are ready to serve them and the preschoolers we work with.
It all started when one of our kiddos (which they may be referred to as for the rest of this post, in an endearing way) came in and told us why he wanted to get involved in Jumpstart. When he was younger, he was homeless for about 5 years. He told us that while his siblings took it extremely hard, he pushed himself to learn as much as he could because he realized that his education was all that was going to help him get out of that situation and succeed in life. From there, he has risen above all obstacles and though he is pre-med and plans on becoming a pediatrician, he has become a leader in Jumpstart and an advocate for education and for the preschoolers that we encounter.
Another one of our students just lost her dad to cancer this summer. In his honor, she wanted to run the Boston Marathon to raise money for cancer research, but after looking at all the different charities available on the marathon site, she decided to run for Jumpstart instead, because her dad knew that it was so important to her and would be a perfect way to honor him.
We also have a freshman this year who I immediately loved for his eagerness and willingness to work in the classrooms and with Jumpstart and for his awkward freshman-ness (you know what I'm talking about). He came in to fill out some paperwork, and in the process he embarrassingly told us that both of his parents had died this summer and he has no other family, so his permanent address actually is St. John's now. Heartbreaking. And while I worried about whether the other students would accept him for who he is, I went to training the next day and watched as his unknowing team embraced him with compliments about how excited they are that he chose to do Jumpstart and how happy they are that he is a part of their team, calling him "their newbie."
When I took this job, I didn't know how I was going to live without being in a preschool classroom every day. Now, however, I am so continually humbled and in awe of all that my students are doing and the passion and dedication with which they do it that I am thrilled and honored to get to work alongside them this year and onward. My students have dreams of changing the world, and I have no doubt that they will do so.