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I just had to share this story because sometimes it takes an eleven year old to put things into perspective.

As many of you know, I've been teaching for many years. Most of those were spent teaching 8th and 9th grade, and this year I decided to give 6th grade a try.

I don't teach in an affluent area, and while many students come from middle class families, many more come from families with little and are just scraping by. Probably typical of many areas in this country.

Anyway, one of the paraprofessionals (what we used to call aides) is a lovely woman who helps out in the hallways, helps out at the front desk, etc. She's a single mom with three sons and imo, an amazing parent. This woman is the epitome of the term "scraping by". She does what she needs to do to make ends meet, but her priority is her family and teaching them the values she was raised with by her own family, specifically her grandparents.

I have her son in my class, and in all the years I've been teaching, I've never come across a more polite, respectful and decent young man. I'll call him "Michael". It's amazing to not only see how he interacts with adults, but with his own peers, to whom he displays the same respect and positive attitude.

Well, yesterday was "Michael's" birthday, and this morning another teacher and I were talking in the hall as he passed by. "Michael, how was your birthday?" I asked.

"Oh, it was fine. Thanks for asking."
My colleague who has him for another subject asked, "So, what did you get?"
"Well, I got two cakes," he said with a smile.
"And? Did you you get any good presents?"
Here, "Michael" hesitated, and said, "Presents? Well, no, but the cakes were really great....and actually, my present is my family."

Talk about pulling on one's heartstrings. "Michael" said this with such an expression of love for those he lives with, that it could make your eyes water. My colleague and I just looked at him and then I put my hand on his shoulder and said, "You know, you are one incredible kid." I later shared this with his mom who just beamed with pride.

Michael never is the student who comes in with a new Gameboy or a fancy pair of expensive sneakers. But he's always prepared with a bag lunch, or money for a snack, and he always has everything he needs for school. In this young man's life, money doesn't become a major factor because he knows what counts. He's got a family he loves and who loves him, and at eleven years old, that's what he considers the most important thing. And he's a very happy child.

And that really puts things into perspective for me.

...but I still am...

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