When I was in elementary school we had a P.E. coach named Coach Rollins. His job was of course physical ed; running, games, playing, energy, blah blah so on and so forth. He made an impression on me for one reason--he was nice to me. If you know anything about my dad, you know that nice wasn't really an appropriate word for him. I didn't have any other adult males in my life (all the teachers were female) but not only did Coach Rollins treat me decently, he even stood up for me. Several times he pointed out when others were teasing me and berated them for their bullying. He was always watchful of me, and I felt safe whenever he was around. I think, by silently analyzing him during gym class, I got my first clue that men didn't have to be cruel or violent. They could be decent. But despite our silent and strong bond, Coach Rollins and I never really talked or got to know each other in-depth. I don't know what he knew of my situation at home, but we never spoke of anything unrelated to class.
He probably never knew just how deeply he affected me. So, when I found him on Facebook, I naturally jumped at the chance:
I've been wanting to find you on here for years and thank you for being the one single adult during my absurd childhood who cared about me. You have no idea how much your support affected me when I was a kid. Okay, that probably sounds really creepy and this message is probably really creepy too......but my point remains and I'm glad I finally got a chance to say it!!!This was months ago, and he never responded, so I figured either 1) He didn't check his messages or 2) I came off way too creepy. But just today I opened my Facebook to read his reply:
Alex...you wont believe it but I just now saw your msg...haha...the affect my love for my students had on you and hopefully others is EXACTLY why I do what I do...I was just telling my new wife Susan what sweet children both you and Ariel were and how brutally candid you both were...I cant pinpoint any examples but I vividly remember that u both were two of the most HONEST kids I have ever taught...sorta like ur first line youve never had trouble saying what you were thinking...haha...I think I relate best to the my students that somehow realize at an early age that I really and truly LOVE them and would do ANYTHING within my power to help them to realize their potential...It seems cliche'ish but I tell everyone of my players if they ever need anything I will ALWAYS be here for them and I mean it with ALL MY HEART!!!!...thanks again for your kind words Alex and the words are just as true for you as much as any child I have ever taught...if you EVER need ANYTHING just let me know ....I LOVE YOU girl....your favorite Coach....Coach Todd Rollins
Me? Candid? NAH. But seriously, this email really warmed my heart. It's important to tell the people who have helped you in your life thank you. I felt so great knowing that he was aware of my gratitude. And great knowing that there are people out there who make a profession out of caring, loving, teaching. That's all teaching is, really: love of knowledge and love of children and all the potential they have to offer. Coach Rollins has the mindset I hope all people in childcare have. And he for sure has my gratitude and all my love. Isn't he great?