A True Teacher

I new I wanted to be a teacher from when I could first remember. It just always felt like it was a part of me. I never doubted or had questions about what I wanted to do when I grew up. Once I graduated from university and began teaching it felt like the world was at my fingertips. I wanted my kids (my students) to learn everything! I would spend my weekends planning and imagining how I would structure my lessons, teach this child, make a difference in the world.

The crazy thing about when you first start teaching is that you think that you know everything. You think that your kids are going to change because of you. But the wonderful thing about teaching is that you change because of them. You change your delivery, your pacing, the way you interact with students. You learn to pay more attention to what they don’t say than what they do. Your students really teach you about life and Jasmine taught me more than I ever could have ever realized.

Jasmine didn’t mince words. She didn’t put on airs and act like everything was ok if it wasn’t. She taught me to be bold and true when things aren’t going right.

And Jasmine’s smile – that genuine smile that just lit up the room and was unmistakably hers – you had to work to get it. She taught me to really value joy. I felt like I had won the lottery when I could get her to laugh or smile and I would go home and journal about it. That smile carried me through some challenging times and that smile is still framed in my classroom.

I learned from watching Jasmine what true friendship looks like. Her friends, Summer, Jacqui, Eliora, and many others, they loved her and she absolutely loved them. Adults get wrapped up in all sorts of things with friendships, but these girls they just cared unconditionally, laughed freely, and were there for each other no matter what. This gift of being able to witness the love of friends, that was truly a blessing.

One of the most important lessons Jasmine taught me was that the world doesn’t stop for you when things get bad, so you have to be strong for yourself. She came to school on days that I knew were rough. She powered through 5th grade Walkabout and she did so only with a bit of grumbling. She knew that the world wasn’t going to stop for her and so she stared it down and walked all over it.

There were amazing times in fifth grade and there were harder times. Once Jasmine had a rough afternoon and just sat crying, and then quiet, on the floor in our classroom long after the bell rang. She didn’t want to talk, move, or do anything. At the time I didn’t understand it, couldn’t understand it. But now I think, in that moment, she just didn’t want to take on any more that this crazy world had thrown at her. She just needed peace.

Over the years I have learned so much from my students. My kids are always my kids. No matter how old they get or how far they journey. Jasmine was a radiant, sarcastic, witty, and genuine person. She touched, influenced, and changed the lives of countless people. I know that now she has the peace she was seeking.

We are all so blessed and lucky to have met, to have been taught, and most importantly to have been loved by Jasmine.

– Michelle Hoard, Jasmine’s 5th Grade Homeroom Teacher