I carry the words of my students with me everywhere I go.
Their dreams. Their hopes. Their wrapped up identities as they try to find their voice.
I carry the story of the boy who cried. The girl who fought injustice and the students who knew no better way.
I carry the hopes of teachers who share. Who reach out and ask for help. Who know that there has to be a better way and lay awake searching for it every night. Hoping to not feel so alone, hoping to not feel so crazy. I carry their words into the light whenever I can because we have all felt crazy, we have all felt devalued, we have all felt like we cannot teach one more day and yet have gone on, knowing that our students would wait for us with their dreams held in their hands, hoping that today would be the day that makes a difference.
I carry the words of my daughter who wants to be an artist, a singer, an animal doctor, but most of all a teacher. Who worries what others think and cares too much. Who wakes up tired and yet gives it her best. Who loves with all of her heart even when it hurts.
The words of the girl who had no food. The boy who had no friends. The child that wasn’t really a child taking care of their sibling late into the night. Or the children who told me that school was not for them but for those others kids who had it all figured out.
I carry the words of the girl who knew she could do better. Of the child who did not conform. Of the student that made me cry and shake my head in frustration, knowing that I was not the best teacher I could be even though I wanted to.
I carry my own words, sometimes loudly, other times so quietly that I cannot hear them myself, so that others may see that they too can have a voice. That our world is made better when we share, even our fears. That we are not determined by our weaknesses but instead on our struggle to overcome them.
I did not set out to carry the words but they kept tumbling at me. And so I walk on knowing that my path is perhaps not set, but the words that I carry will push me forward, always hoping for someone to listen.
I carry the words of my students so that their voices can be heard. Of all of the kids who found their voice and now will never be silenced. The words that mean that their dreams live on, hopefully pushing the minds of others.
I carry the words and so do you. Let us never forget that.