A Special Christmas Gift

Reading Rodd Lucier’s recent blog post, The Greatest Gift, got me thinking about how it’s the gifts that sometimes blind-side us that are the most rewarding.

While at the local fitness center a few days ago, I ran into a former St. David secondary school student (Rejean) who asked me if I was “Mr. Redfearn”. Though his face was familiar, I had forgotten his name and last saw him about 20 years when he was a shy teenager in my grade 12 English class.

During our brief conversation he proudly pointed out that he had received a final mark of 90 in my class and that I had shown the students the movie Dead Poets Society.

But his eyes sparkled even more when he recalled the class excursion to the Holocaust Education Center in Toronto. Since Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning was one of the books on the grade 12 English course at that time, I decided to take my World Religions and English classes to experience some of the horrific reality of the holocaust as witnessed through the eyes and ears of the survivors and liberators of the death camps.

Rejean indicated that this excursion was one of the highlights of high school for him, proving, once again, that the lessons learned beyond the four walls of the classroom are often the most profound and enduring.

Stepping into the classroom every day to lead, challenge, support, discipline and inspire students requires a courageous act of faith. Though when they do this, teachers send forth tiny ripples of hope which can, collectively, form waves and in time create currents capable of sweeping down the mightiest walls of ignorance and oppression.

To know, some two decades later, that I had a small hand in shaping this enduring memory for one of my students, is one of the marvelous fruits of the teaching profession and a special Christmas gift I will not soon forget.

Merry Christmas!

Photo Credit – ‘Electric Sphere’ – spettacoloppuro’s Photostream