This is my 18th year as a public educator.
Although every year of my career has included wonderful experiences with wonderful people crossing my path, 3 of those 18 years have an extra special place in my heart--- the three years I spent working in Wichita Falls, Texas' "Northside". But it was not the day-to-day things that I did in the classroom that made those years so amazing; rather it was the people with whom I worked those three years. And when I say that, I don't mean the colleagues.... I am talking about the FAMILIES in that neighborhood.
Yes, I am a supporter of integration in all communities, but in the case of Wichita Falls' Northside, there was something very special about this neighborhood because of the way it had been preserved as a predominantly Mexican-American community. NEVER BEFORE and NEVER SINCE have I felt so welcomed in a community. The students and their siblings and their parents made me feel like I was a part of their families on a daily basis.
And now because of Facebook, some of them have "found me" again.... Imagine my surprise when 5000 miles away from Wichita Falls, Texas' Northside community, I receive FB friend requests from "kids" I knew when they were only 12 years old.... They are now all grown up, some with families of their own (which does AGE me just a bit!), and yet they sought me out, posting things like "OMG I just found my 6th grade teacher!" I have enjoyed looking at pictures from their lives and hearing about how they are doing... and then I get a post like this on my wall, and I am reminded why it is that I do what I do.