Three days in a row, he was dropped off to me in the car rider line. Three days in a row, he wasn’t very happy about it. And three days in a row he cried, and he screamed, and he tried to run. Maybe he needed a face a little more inviting than mine. Or maybe just a little more time to warm-up. Either way...for three days in a row...I carried that little four year old boy from the car to the classroom. He would sit on the floor in that room and cry until he adjusted to the idea of being away from home.
Before we knew it, it was morning four. And sure enough, he still wasn’t ready to give in to the idea of coming to school. I picked him up from the back seat of that car at the drop-off line. He threw his two tiny little arms around my neck, and proceeded to wail...relentlessly. I’m running cars through the line and holding a wailing four year-old, waiting for him to come to grips with his current reality.
I try to set him down, he starts to take off before I even let go. I pick him back up, try to convince him to stand next to me and hold my hand. He doesn’t budge. He’s holding on to my neck like his life depends on it and crying for his grandmother.
At that exact moment, I need an intervention. A call to the bullpen. And it comes...in the form of one of our third grade teachers. She pats him on the back and starts to talk to him about all the animal pictures in her room. “Do you want to come see the animals? You can walk with me. You will love them.”
And, as impossible as it seemed in my mind, at that exact moment it was enough. I sat him on the ground, he grabbed her hand, and walked right down that hall to see those animals like he had done it a million times before.
She didn’t have to stop. It wasn’t her student. That moment didn’t have to affect her day. But what’s really awesome is that faculty members all over our building were doing that same thing for students all over building every day, all day long. Because it’s all about the kids. And none more so than on the first week of school. I love that about the first week of school...everybody makes an even greater effort to focus on the kids. After all, they are the reason we are here. None of us can do our job if there are no kids.
And in the first week of school...everyone is hopeful, optimistic, excited. Everyone is passionate about touching the lives of children, because educators understand one thing really well. And that one thing is this, “touch the heart first, and then guide the hand.” And that is a beautiful thing to watch.
It’s the way Jesus did life, when He told the woman at the well He knew her and He had water better for her than the world could ever offer. Or when He fed the five thousand before calling them to the challenge pf following Him. In fact, I know when He called you, He touched your heart first...with what He did for you. He is the Master Teacher. He knows how to touch hearts and then shape minds.
Every child that has ever been impacted by a teacher had their heart touched first. And that is what makes educators special. They touch hearts. So this year I pray for every one of us to touch more hearts than we have ever touched. I pray for children to be led to the greatest achievements of their young lives...in the classroom, on the field or court, in the studio, and everywhere they go in the world...because they followed a teacher, a coach, a role model...who touched their heart. It’s life changing.