Teaching requires a fine balance between emotionality and practicality. Teachers that are too emotional don’t last long. They take personal offense at all the jibes and insults; those “slings and arrows” that get hurled our way from disgruntled students. It undermines and undoes them; they end up discouraged, disillusioned and ultimately defeated. Teachers that are too practical die a different death. They become cold automatons, selfish and self-centered, serving no one joyously, and few effectively. In my time I have seen both come and go, and neither are a pretty sight.

For those of us that remain on that middle path – seeking to meet the practical requirements of the curriculum and staying sensitive to student needs – the road is long and filled with both burden and heartache. But the rewards, when they come, can be awfully sweet. At the end of a tough day at work, I received the following letter from a former student:

Dear Mr.Wise,

You haven’t heard from me in a few years, and I am not even sure if you remember me, with the amount of students you teach each year, but I was in your English4U class in 2008 with Ozzy, not sure if you remember him as well.

Anyway, moving along, maybe it is because of graduation goggles (from: How I Met Your Mother), that has left me pondering more so about the future and reflecting on the past, which has lead me to this, writing you an email to once again let you know what a pleasure and an honour it was to have you as a teacher.  

Though I am certain many of the older adults will not consider 3 years a very long time, the past 3 years has taught me plenty. Considering you are still a teacher, with grades and all, I am happy to report I graduated recently on schedule with a GPA of 3.0 and offers of masters and honours. I do feel that that is an accomplishment to be proud of because from being slightly cocky into thinking I can pass everything, to failing and working my ass off after, I am still learning. (My strengths, my capabilities, and my weaknesses included).

In the past 3 years of studies, I have come into contact with many lecturers. Some, as dedicated to teaching as any teacher could be, some indifferent, and some even cruel enough to tell me that I will fail (not to worry, I proved her wrong with my 5 Distinctions), but never one as kind and as caring you are to your students, and so willing to share your culture and life back from your home in Canada, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I still catch up with you and your wife through your blog occasionally, please send her my best and if you would please, that I think the work she does is very admirable. I suppose after all the rambling, I should get to the point and say that, ICPU was a great experience for me, I worked hard, played hard, so hard I did not even realize I was a merit scholar until graduation day, that was a nice surprise. Never having really excelled in high school, it thought me that I am capable as long as I am willing.

After studying Public Relations for 3 years, life again has taken a funny turn that I myself did not expect. I have turned down the offers to pursue masters and honours, to my father’s dismay, to pursue early childhood teaching. My only hope is that I can one day be an educator as caring and as kind as you once were to me.

Regards,

Pui May

For this I labour; not for financial gain or recognition, but only that I might have the privilege of inspiring some young person to be the man or woman that a loving God intended them to be. If I was that to you, then I have been well repaid. If I was not, please forgive my failings. I promise you that I will not quit striving to be all that God intends me to be as well.

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