I remember, not so long ago, walking into that classroom and believing that I had everything within me to teach and mentor middle-school aged students with ease. How hard could it really be?
I was so terribly wrong.
Stepping up to the front of the classroom I was convinced I would teach them so much; I would help them grow; I would help mold them into better boys and girls.
Who knew the stepping up would entail the breaking down of an attitude that claimed to be the wise teacher. Who knew the stepping up would mean becoming the one who was taught.
I could write one thousand letters to the students I've worked with the last three years and it would never wholly cover all the important and invaluable things I've learned.
Because here's the thing - when you decide to teach, when you decide to graduate from school and return to the classroom, you will educate, but you will continue to receive an education, too.
There will be more like this - because there are just too many small humans who've wrecked me in the best ways to only write one; here's where it will start, though.
You are every kind and good thing I've ever hoped people would see in me.
You pulse talent with every flicker of your hand and stomp of your foot.
You have the sort of infectious smile and laugh that I am sure tunes the soundtrack of Heaven.
I see me in you. In the way you don't want people to see you cry, in the way you want to make sure your tribe is good and secure, in the way you listen when we ask you to.
You have the voice and style and grace to live in the spotlight. I surely hope you change the world with it.
Meeting you was one of the greatest occurrences of my little life.
You challenge me to be kinder, to be wiser, to think of myself far less than what I do.
Did you know I admire you? The way you love people and want people to know they matter -- because they matter so, so much.
Sometimes I'll hear you laugh or give grace to your classmates and I choke up a little -- you are the little sister I never had, the child I love the way I imagine a parent does, the heart I want to protect and nurture and help tend.
I want you to be a game changer; for the East side of Dayton, for our heart of a state in this country, for our world.
I believe you will set this place on fire with your determination and wildly free love.
I love you. I appreciate you.
Thank you for changing my heart, making me better, helping me to know what love actually is.
Fight for who you are.
Stay true to the desires of your heart.
Don't conform. Dear God, don't fall in line.
I am wholly convinced your creation was on purpose, full of purpose, and laced with world changing abilities.
I cannot wait to see your heart light up this small spot on the map.
I believe in you.
Goodness, I am for you.
Thank you for changing me. Thank you for trusting me.