Tuesday, September 10, 2013

From Janitor to College Student

I was working late on a Friday afternoon. Trying to get ready for the next week. I was keeping an eye on the clock (gym time coming) while looking through materials that I will need next week and the week after that. One of the other teachers was also working on her lesson plans as I saw her coming to pick up papers from the printer. I was focused. I was determined to get more work done.

Then Victor popped in. I was going to just quickly say hello, and get right back to my work. Victor had something else in his mind. He was sharing how his daughter is looking forward to kindergarten that will start in a few days (if you are reading this on a Tuesday, kindergarten started yesterday). He shared how his daughter is learning to write her name correctly; how her letters are starting to resemble real letters, not just random shapes. Victor was also talking about how he had bought a book to help him study for his GED.

By now I have realized that I can finish my work at another time. It is important to talk with Victor. He is an important person.

Victor shared what he wants to do in the future, and how he wants to improve his English in order to help his daughter with her homework. Victor also expressed his need to learn how to write in English. He wants to get into welding. He shared how he was only able to complete middle school back home. Victor has dreams.

By now I am thinking all the ways that Victor has helped me at school: He has vacuumed around the chairs when I forgot to stack them; he has helped me move furniture, clean this and that, get paper towels; he has waited to clean so that I can finish tutoring. In other words, Victor has shown me compassion, care and friendship many times over. Maybe it is now time for me to think how I could help Victor on his way to become fluent in English and get his diploma. He might not be my official student, but a student regardless. He is my coworker,and he is my friend.


16 comments:

  1. Your words of wisdom are keepers this morning. My advice to all "baby teachers" is to make the custodian and the office manager (secretary) your friend from day one. They will be your links to the building, its history and the news.

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    1. You are so right Anita; custodians as best friends at school make everything so much easier!

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  2. What a sweet post! Victor is important and I hope you continue to be able to touch his life. He saw something in you that made him want to share. You are a blessing to be a blessing to someone else.

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    1. Thank you Margaret for your kind words!

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  3. I love this post - both for the way you wrote it, the coming to realize the moment feel, as well as for its message. Where would we be without those marvelous custodians who keep our buildings clean and welcoming?

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    1. I am just remembering what happens when we have a substitute custodian. Nothing is same in the morning. That is why Victor is so important!

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  4. You didn't just notice but you are thinking of action. I hope that you will have a chance to help Victor.

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    1. Terje, I really do hope that I will have a chance to help Victor.

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  5. You are blessed to have Victor,who goes above and beyond in carrying out his duties. He will be blessed as you have the chance to help him meet his goals. Thanks for sharing and reminding to stay open to opportunities around us, even when we are busy with worthwhile work. Victor sounds so much like many parents of students in my school- working hard to provide for their children and trying to help them get a good education.

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    1. You are so right; I am blessed to have Victor!

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  6. What a thoughtful and kind post. I have never had the privilege of tutoring adults, but I think that it would be a beautiful thing- as wonderful it is to watch kids learn, I think there is something special about the awareness of an adult learner, esp if they are discovering the joy of learning for the 1st time.

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    1. Jane you are right! It is joyful to watch an adult learner figure out that they can learn! It is like a homerun!

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  7. Sometimes I get so frustrated at one of our custodians because when I go back to school in the evenings, he will come in and endlessly talk to me. I sometimes have to remind myself that he is lonely and that talking to me could be the highlight of his night. Thanks for reminding me that everyone is important.

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    1. Leigh Ann, I hear you. It is not always easy to focus on others when you have work in mind.

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  8. I loved how you used italics to emphasize shifts in the narrative. I especially loved the first as you highlighted the importance of realizing at times that we must adjust our priorities in order to put people first. I could picture well the feeling of wanting to be productive so you could be off to enjoy your weekend. I hope the start of the year is going well for you.

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  9. Oh Jaana, I've missed so many important posts by you! This one really spoke to me the most, so I'm going to leave my comment here. I love how you see people in such a positive way and truly treasure the connections you have with all those around you. There are so many people who don't even bother to get to know the custodians -- imagine what they are missing! (I always end up knowing the custodians quite well, since I also tend to work late many evenings!) Thank you for sharing how important connections can be.

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