April 25, 2005

Not that I'm jealous

I just heard from a former student. I met her during an orientation class I teach for at-risk students. She was considered at-risk because she grew up in a remote area of the mountains, far from any school that would have such things as Advanced Placement courses. MountainGirl took four courses from me, and she stayed on to get a Master's degree. She used to work at a table in the library right near my office so for six years, I talked to her every day. Whenever we would read a book like Rick Bass' Book of Yaak, she'd say, "Oh, we can't let these places be destroyed. How do we get people to understand that?"

She is now working for Famous Environmental Organization. Her job is to travel with politicians to beautiful endangered places and get them to care about these places. Every couple of weeks, she travels to a new forest, marsh, coast, mountain, or island. She loves that part of her job. The difficult part, she says, is the disillusionment when she sees more clearly how politics work. She'd rather live in a world in which her job wasn't necessary. If that day ever comes, she plans to return to the mountains where she was born.

6 comments:

Nels said...

Wow. Now THAT is an effect on a student.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Oh, it is so nice to know that former students are doing something that they believe in and that hopefully will have an impact.

Yankee T said...

You obviously had an impact on her. What a nice legacy for an educator. Don't be jealous, be proud.

jo(e) said...

Oh, I wouldn't say that I had any particular impact on her. Like many of our students, she came to our campus because she cared passionately about environmental issues and knew she neded a degree to get the kind of job where she could make a difference in the world. We get a lot of students like that. I'd say I learn more from them than they learn from me. I have such amazing students that I cannot resist bragging about them.

Scrivener said...

jo(e) there's no need for that kind of modesty here. So she came to your school already with an activist streak and already some interest--you still helped not only to nurture and shape that interest, but also to teach her how to harness it and employ it successfully. Sometimes I think the greatest achievement of a teacher is to encounter a bright, engaged student, plop down some intriguing materials in front of them, and then to get the hell out of their way. And that absolutely is having a direct impact on the student. And it's hard as hell, both to recognize which students you can afford to take that tack with and how far they can go on their own and to keep yourself from butting in because it's so much fun to talk to those students and to try to help them along quicker even when they need to work something out on their own.

Any teacher who learns more from her students then she teaches them is a WONDERFUL teacher in my book.

jo(e) said...

Scrivener, I love it when you are nice to me.