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An offshoot of Ed Trust’s Echoes From the Gap series, drawing stories of students from behind the statistics, this blog series shares shorter narratives — brief glimpses into classrooms and hallways — that give readers an opportunity to examine educator practices and policies through the intimate lens of student experience. All stories are based on interviews or first-hand accounts, but are shared with respect for the privacy of students and the adults around them.

 

Alone with his journal, he was a poet.

Kept it tucked in his book bag during school and football practice.

Never thought of himself as a writer when he was in class,

The flow of his thoughts caught on the rigid frame of the narrow wooden door on the way into English.

Until his teacher gave him the assignment.

A poem about where he was from.

He sized up the prompt —

The words beginning to churn in his mind.

Took the assignment home and opened his journal.

Leafed through intricate rhymes to a clean page.

And he started to write. He wrote and he wrote well into the night

Thoughts pulsing from his mind through the pen

Words hitting the page

In heavy, inky drops.

Brought it to his teacher the following morning

Handed it to her in careful hands

Watched her eyes as she read it.

She looked up at him.

“This is good .…”

“I always knew you were an artist,” she added.

He beamed.

He’d never had a teacher say that about his writing,

Never had a teacher see his gift with form, rhythm, and language.

But she did.

“For someone to see that in me …,” he mused.

“If she sees it, I gotta see it.”

Together, they submitted it to a competition.

And the young poet from the Gulf won his first award.

Held the certificate in proud inked writer’s hands.

He was a poet.

Started taking on essays and reports in class with new vigor

Each new form a challenge to master.

Each new vocabulary word, a feast of vowels and consonants.

His teacher encouraged him, feeding him books and words,

Challenging him to write and write.

Journal no longer tucked away in his book bag when he was at school,

But proud in his hand.

He was a poet. He was a writer.

This he believed.

Because of her.

 

Here’s to the teachers out there who see the raw talent and fire in their students and help them translate and grow it in the classroom. The teachers who see the poets and thinkers of tomorrow before we know them. Sometimes, before they even see themselves.

Thank a teacher.

Thank a teacher.

Thank a teacher.

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