This afternoon, I was eating lunch with a colleague who has been teaching for almost forty years. She was telling us about some of her most memorable students from the past, including a young man named Richard who she had taught back in 1971. Richard wasn’t the most well-behaved student in third grade and she was wondering what ever happened to the boy.
So I looked him up.
In less than three minutes, I had located Richard and his place of business just by using my iPhone. Then I called his place of business, despite my colleague’s protests and utterances of disbelief.
After confirming that Richard had attended the elementary school where my colleague had worked, I handed the phone to her, and the two began to speak.
It turns out that the once-naughty Richard is now a husband, the father of three children, a successful business owner, and a motorcycle aficionado. By all accounts, he is doing very well for himself and no longer resembles that difficult, rough-and-tumble boy that he once was.
Even better, he remembers my colleague as being one of his favorite teachers of all-time. When I told him who was sitting beside me, he said, “No. Really? How old is she? This is the strangest phone call I’ve ever received. But it’s great.”
Richard lives only a couple of towns away from where he attended elementary school, and my colleague still has family in the area, so the two plan to get together for coffee the next time she is in town.
Just imagine: Thirty-eight years after leaving third grade, you have the opportunity to sit down for coffee with your favorite teacher of all-time and tell her about the direction that your life has taken.
If we could all be so lucky.
I was so happy for Richard, but I was even more pleased for my colleague. Teachers worry about their former students a lot, and this particular colleague takes her worrying to an extreme. She loves her kids and only wants the best for them, but as teachers, we hear stories about our former students which sometimes sadden us greatly. Finding a way to brighten her spirits by helping her locate one of her most challenging former students and allowing her to see that even these difficult students can turn out just fine made my day.
My week, even.
My friend, Lindsay, suggests that this might make an interesting book. I could spend some time reuniting former students with their teachers after years of separation and write about the resulting interactions. Perhaps sprinkle in some of my own experiences with former students as well, many of whom I still have a relationship. Some of whom now babysit for my daughter, housesit with my cat, and take my dog on the weekends when we are away.
I have a lot of books to write (most of them fiction), but this idea isn’t bad. At the very least, I’d like to hear about how the meeting between Richard and my colleague goes and perhaps write a story about this one instance for the newspaper. And who knows? Perhaps it might turn into a book someday.
It certainly sound fun. But the question is:
Would you be interested in this kind of book? Or would it be the kind of book that only appeals to teachers?
If you have any thoughts on the subject, please let me know.