, Newburyport, MA


September 4, 2013

On the way to school


To know that I mattered in the lives of some young people tells me that my life has been meaningful. What better affirmation?

I think of a young man, a special education student, who once said, “If you had done something as long as I have and weren’t any good at it, you wouldn’t like school either.” But he persisted. He flowered late, eventually graduating from college.

“I know that I was a pain in the butt,” he would write, “but I just wanted you to know that I appreciate all that you did for me. I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for you. I don’t think I would be graduating.”

I think of a young lady, back for a visit, who gave me a big smile — “It’s so good to see you!”

She asked if I had received her note from the previous spring. I produced it from my desk drawer. How could I ever have thrown it away?

“It seemed that whenever I had a dilemma, whether it was with schoolwork, teachers or my own little problems, I would go running in your direction,” read the note. “You always made me feel better about things, and I thank you so much for that. I’ll never forget you.”

Oh, yes. The potential of two young girls walking to school. The potential of a young skateboarder. The potential of a teaching career.


Stuart Deane lives in Newburyport.

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