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They Look For Me


Photo taken by Jon Harper

In the span of about 20 minutes I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to see almost every student enter the building. Some are dropped off by their parents. Others ride their bikes to school. But most of our students take the bus to school each morning.

I try to give as many students as possible a high five, a hand shake or a hug. It is without a doubt one of the best parts of my school day. And while I look forward to seeing each and every child that enters the building, there are three girls that just always seem to make my day.

Invariably, one of them will see me first. Once she does, she comes to me. Arms wide open. Preparing for the biggest hug. The next girl latches on. Then another. Until some days we have what I like to call a three-person-hug.

The kind you see when teams win championships. The kind you see at large celebrations. And for me the kind I get to experience at the beginning and end of every day.

Can you think of a better way to begin or end your school day? No matter what has been sandwiched in between.

One day last week I had to attend a meeting that forced me to miss dismissal. The next morning one of the young ladies who is always part of the hug said, “Mr. Harper you weren’t here yesterday.”

Wow! It is wonderful to know that these few seconds each day mean that much to these children.

It was then that I realized they look for me. They actually look for me.

And when I’m not there, it matters to them. At least a little bit. See, we may not realize it. But each and every one of us have people in our lives that look for us. We may not always realize it. Especially since these same children that look for us often decide to treat us in ways that are confusing.

Yet, we mustn’t ever forget that we need to be there for them. No matter what. No matter what. We are their rock. We are their stability. We are what and who they need. The difficult thing is that oftentimes we aren’t even aware of it. Therefore, we must assume that each and every child that we interact with each day is one that is looking for us.

Last week I passed a small kid in the hallway and something that he said resonated very deeply with me. I first asked him where he was going and what it was that he needed. He seemed a little stressed and a little flustered. His response to my question didn’t seem to make sense. But then he said, “my teacher believes me.” He repeated it again, “my teacher believes me.”

My point is not that he was upset that I didn’t believe him. My point is that he felt very strongly that his teacher did and does. There are few things more powerful than knowing that someone believes in you. This child definitely comes to school each morning looking for her. And based on what he told me. He finds her.

Our school day officially ends at 3:15. That’s when the announcements come on and I position myself in the hallway for afternoon dismissal. Car riders are dismissed first. Buses follow. I honestly don’t know how many buses we have. Maybe I should, but I don’t.

I know we have about ten buses that transport our students to and from school. But there is something that I am becoming more and more aware of. That is when they call Bus 8. This is the bus transports the three girls that give me my three-person-hug.

Brown hands wrap around me. Tan hands wrap around me. I look down and I see blue eyes and black eyes beaming. Smiles all the way around. I love the fact that these girls look for me at the beginning and end of each day.It is an incredible feeling. And you know what?

I look for them!

Be the person that someone looks for each day!



*This post was inspired by some amazing young girls and some Voxer conversations with Benjamin Kitslaar who has shared with me that he is fortunate enough to have similar experiences each and every day.





4 comments on “They Look For Me

  1. Jena Ball says:

    This is lovely Jon. It reminds me of a little boy we’ll call Devon, whom I hadn’t seen all summer. He was one of 45+ students enrolled in my reading program. Since I visited his class via Skype each week, it was hard for me to see each and every student, never mind get the kind of hugs you describe. However, when school started again and a new group of students filed in to meet me, Devon was among them. There was no way I could have known he was there (he’d grown a good 3 or 4 inches) and was way in the back of the room, but when I didn’t greet him immediately, he rushed up to the computer and said, “Ms. Jena don’t you remember me?! It’s Devon!” How I wished I could have reached through the computer screen and given him a big hug. Of course I remembered him, and I was so touched that he remember me; that he was happy to see me; that my visits had made a difference in his life.

    So yes, they do look for us and TO us for lessons on how to see and be in the world. Thank you for the reminder and the smile. – Jena

  2. I love this, Jon, and I still have these experiences at the high school level. It’s such a wonderful feeling, and it reminds me that we all need affirmation, consistency, and someone to believe in us.

    I know from experience that a few seconds of attention that we give to a student could be what saves his life. Thank you for being that kind of person!


  3. Lisa says:

    Jon, that would be the most incredible part of my day too.

    Just think… if this is how good you feel, imagine the feeling you’re leaving all those children with. What a wonderful way to start the day.

    Lis 🙂

  4. Pingback: Ten Lovely Minutes
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