Let me see if I can sort out the substance of today’s experience. Let me start with the beginning of this excerpt-from-my-life narrative.

My former student who taught my former student.

My former student who taught my former student.

I’ll start with Patton. I taught Patton for English 1002 in the early 2000’s. He was a traditional-aged student from the area. I don’t recall the particulars of his performance, but I recall he was sharp student with a super-engaging personal style. He returned to LSUE as a teacher a couple of years ago and joined my office this past year as a full-time assistant administrator. He’s picked up a couple of masters degrees since leaving LSUE and has become a really fine teacher, both for online courses and face-to-face courses.

Next comes Candi. Candi was my student in 2008 in English 1002 online. She is a memorable student first of all for the quality of her writing and her overall effort. She really excelled at critical reading/researching/writing and earned one of the highest averages a student’s ever earned in my class. But English 1002 was not all that was going on in Candi’s life that semester. Her husband was terminally ill. She completed many of her assignments at his bedside at the M. D. Anderson Hospital in Houston through an unimaginably difficult and stressful (understatement?) life-crisis. Ever since, I’ve had little respect for students who come to me with lame excuses about why they couldn’t complete their assignments. Her work in that semester goes down in my 28 years of teaching as the most heroic student performance I’ve ever observed.

Next comes Candi and Patton. One of Candi’s last courses in completing her degree was Political Science 2051, American Government. She took it this past semester, she excelled and earned an A, and her teacher was Patton.

My former student teaching my former student. But that’s not all–Patton shared with me an email she sent to him at the end of this semester thanking him for being a good teacher and citing him and one other faculty member at LSUE as the best of the best teachers: The other faculty member she cited was me.

A teacher never knows where his influence ends . . . or begins.

A teacher never knows where his influence ends . . . or begins.

Candi earned a certificate of distinction for her work in Patton’s class, so she came to campus today to receive her certificate and to take pictures. I was particularly pleased and proud that my supervisor and two of the academic Division Heads were present for the informal presentation, so Patton and I both got to brag and show off a little in front of our boss and our colleagues.

I can’t spend the pride that I felt this morning at the grocery store, but like so many other rewards of teaching-as-a-life’s-calling, I’ll cherish the sentiment as long as my mind works. And of course, I memorialize it with this post.

And to my friends who teach, we remember: This is sacred work!

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