For someone who absolutely hates being in the limelight, I sure did pick the wrong profession.

I am a teacher in a small town. I have taught for many, many, many years. Not only have I had almost every kid in the county in my class, I have also had his mama, his daddy, his sister, his cousin, and his next-door neighbor.

I’m not saying that teachers are treated like celebrities in a small town, but we tend to be “noticed.” It can be rather awkward at times, especially when shopping in the local Walmart.

I was once stalked in the local Walmart—in the underwear aisle. Now before you should think anything weird was going on, let me reassure you that my three stalkers, all students in my newspaper class, thought it funny to see their teacher in this part of the store. I think they were taking a bet on cotton or nylon. (This incident happened YEARS ago.)

I wouldn’t have known if one of them hadn’t confessed the next day. She was practically in tears, describing their devious acts of espionage.

How many times have other incidents like this happened?

The thought scares me. Needless to say, I’m quite cautious now. Even buying toilet paper in public makes me nervous.

You would think we’d get used to it. Everywhere we go, there they are, our students, our watchers. But it’s not all bad. Sometimes when you least expect it, these precious souls have a way of re-appearing, and we get to watch them.

Tonight I planned to head over to a neighboring town to catch my friends play music. One of my former students was in from college, and we thought we’d share a cup of coffee while she caught me up on her plans for her upcoming missionary work and current student teaching. But the place was packed—not a single place to sit.

So we decided to head to another venue known for its great live music. And sure enough, when I walked in the door, I saw familiar faces. But what caught my attention was the two performers. They were fantastic! I looked closer and realized I knew one of the two.

The performer who caught my eye was a former student and a very special friend of our family. I had known him for years. Quiet, unassuming, extremely witty, and multi-talented—these are just a few words that describe him.

I should also add extremely humble.

Up until this point, I wondered if he would ever get the recognition he deserved. An amazing musician from a multi-talented family, he always seemed content playing in the background.

But I always saw something more.

Tonight he took center stage. His voice rang strong and true. His fingers glided effortlessly along the neck of the guitar. Applause boomed after each of his songs. Call me sappy, but finally seeing him get the recognition he deserved brought tears to my eyes.

Our students watch us teachers. They see our every move, note our every mistake. And we teachers see our students. We see their flaws, and we see their potential for success.

Tonight I saw a soul shine. What better reward could a teacher receive?

16 thoughts on “Limelight

    • Learning does go both ways. One of my former students was my piano teacher. I learned so much. It was nice saying “yes mam” to her for a chance. And the young man I mention in my blog? I have had the opportunity to play guitar with him and his brother on several occasions. They are the epitome of grace. Even though I certainly don’t measure up to their standards, they were always kind enough to let me sit in. I totally learned from them.

  1. Awesome post, and what an amazing moment! I’ve only taught adults, so running into a student was no big deal, but you remind me of all the times I bumped into a teacher out of the context of the classroom. One was a punk-rocker! I went to see her band, and it took me a few weeks after her performance to start seeing her as a teacher in the classroom.

    • I have never had a punk rocker for teacher, but I’ve had a few in my class. I love working with students who enjoy music–doesn’t matter what type. My students see my Joe Walsh and Eagles posters in my classroom, and it gives us common ground to get to know one another.

  2. Wow, you hit it outta da park again! How wonderful that you appreciate being a teacher! You have so much to give and so much to share. I can see your students looking up to you and aspiring to be like you. It’s a mind-numbing responsibility, but I believe was given to you by God.

  3. Kuby, I have been wallowing in self pity all day. Thanks for sending an encouraging word. Self-doubt is poison to the Christian walk. It takes the focus off God and others and puts it on oneself. That’s where I’ve been ALL DAY. Thanks for reminding me that it’s not about “me.” It is about others. I know you probably didn’t know you were doing that. But I’m glad you did. 🙂

  4. I’m not normally a blog commenter, but I had to say a little something about Limelight. First of all, I’ve been teaching English in a rural town in Ohio for 16 years now, so I can definitely relate to your musings. While I’ve never been stalked in a Wal-Mart underwear department, probably since I don’t purhase them there, but I am always running into my students no matter where I go as well. Dreaming I have celebrity status quickly evaporates as Joe student from ages past simply refers to me as his former 8th grade teacher to his dad because he can’t remember my name. Little did he know the Alzheimer’s was mutual. It was also encouraging to note your literary aspirations on shoutlife as I too am embarking on a young/adult novel adventure. My first novel is finished with the sequel in progress. Now begins the task of finding representation. I wish you the very best! If you haven’t done so yet, check out It’s a great resource for new and established writers.

  5. Don, thank you SO MUCH for commenting on my blog. Made my day. I’m looking for representation too. I will definitely check out I’m new to shoutlife, but I’m excited to be able to talk with others who share my aspirations. I look forward to hearing more about your work.

    As for Walmart adventures, I’ve had some pretty funny ones. I can only wish they were true “celebrity” ventures. Many times what I see is a look of horror when my kids realized I’ve spotted them. “OH no! It’s my teacher. I hope she doesn’t say hello.” 🙂

  6. When I was a kid, I was always terrified when coming upon a teacher while with my mother; I had no idea what might be presented at these chance meeting.

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