My wife is an educator at an inner city charter High School in Los Angeles, California and she relayed this story to me… a story which has now touched people across the world.
She had a student come in to her office this week very upset and saying she doesn’t have anyone left. You see, the student’s mom died not too long ago and her dad had stepped out of the picture YEARS ago. Forced to grow up early, she certainly hasn’t been dealt an easy hand. Imagine Senior year in high school with so much to look forward to.. yet she feels like she’s crumbling under the weight of her own world. So my wife talked with her about what she DOES have, a grandma who loves her, siblings, friends. Then she asked about the Senior prom, surely another rite of passage and something most every student looks forward to. The student told her life was falling apart as it is and she didn’t want to go to Prom. A time of year for family and celebration had left her feeling empty and alone. Besides, she said she didn’t have a dress to wear, and more importantly, she didn’t have a mom anymore to go dress shopping with. Imagine having THAT weight on your shoulders during your Senior year in high school.
Without a second thought my wife said to the student, “I’d go dress shopping with you.” I listened intently and asked my wife what happened. “She just smiled,” my wife said, “and then she started to bawl… she cried uncontrollably”. My wife consoled her. I guess they say sometimes everyone needs a good cry. Somewhere in those tears of pain I know there were tears of joy. The student had found someone right there who cared for her and about her. She had people left in her life after all. In that moment, my wife and she set a plan to go dress shopping for the Prom.
It made me realize sometimes the biggest moments in someone’s school life happen outside of the classroom. Here’s to my wife and ALL the educators out there who are often overworked and sometimes unappreciated doing some of THE most important work.
After I posted this story on Facebook an amazing thing happened. People who didn’t know me, people who didn’t know my wife, started sharing this story around the world. We heard from all over the US and as far as Australia. We heard from teachers and from other students who had their own teachers who stepped in to make a difference. Giving angels from near and far have now offered to help this one young student get to the Prom. It’s been another lesson to me in the incredible power of social media to do good.