My heart sank. I hadn’t been trained for this in my teacher methods courses! “Please don’t tell anyone,” she begged.
“Anna,” I’m required to report this, but even if I weren’t, I would want to do so to make sure you are okay. I also believe that your mom wants to know a better way to react when she’s angry. Even more importantly, children who grow up with child abuse often struggle with that when they have children of their own, and I don’t want that to happen to you.”
And so I got to fill out my first report to Children’s Protective Services. I never heard how it turned out, but I’m sure I lost some more hair because of it, but I survived that year.
* * * * *
Fifteen years later I was wrapping up during the last week of school. I was in my room with the door propped open toward the end of lunch when a woman stepped into my room. “You’re Mr. Fulton, aren’t you?” she asked. “I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I’m Anna, and I was your student a long time ago. I was called in today to be a substitute aide, and I heard some students mention your name. I wanted to come by and thank you for the help you gave me.”
I was so overjoyed to see her. “How are you and your mom doing?” I asked.
“We’re best friends!” she said, “and I even have a daughter of my own now.”
“I have to ask you, Anna,” I said tentatively. “We spoke back then of how children who grow up with abuse often struggle with that themselves. I have to ask how you are doing.”
“I’m doing wonderfully, Mr. Fulton,” she said. “I wanted you to know you made a difference.”
As Mali says in his inspiring video, we don’t make what we deserve, but we make a difference. It seems that every year I receive at least one such story that fuels me to come back another year. I’m sure you have stories like this too. I’d love to hear them, so please leave a comment, and I’ll share them in future posts. Until then, happy teaching, and have a great summer.