Limelight

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?