This is a picture of me when I was around three years old. Clearly my sense of style was struggling. My mom was one for saddle shoes and dressing my sister and me in matching, often sailor-looking outfits. All joking aside, I had a wonderful, blessed childhood.
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”” (Matthew 18:2-6, English Standard Version).
My faith is very important to me, so this Scripture is convicting. My Kindergarteners remind me daily of how to have relentless faith, unabandoned love, and endless hope and resilience. I strongly believe what these verses say: we need to humble ourselves and become more like children.
During my second year teaching Kindergarten, I had a student named Kaleb. Kaleb was wise beyond his years, always happy, and such a loving, friendly kid. If I have ever had a Kindergartener “assistant,” Kaleb was that kiddo. The tenderness and compassion that he had in helping his peers was amazing and convicted me constantly to be more like Kaleb. Fast forward to five years later, Kaleb was diagnosed this year with a rare and terminal brain tumor. To say this has been one of the most heart-wrenching things to watch is an understatement. By the grace of God, Kaleb was cleared by his medical team to come back to school for half days this September, but feels too weak or sick most days to attend.
I spoke with his teacher after the first week of school and discovered that he was having a hard time. He cannot attend recess due to a stint he has and is struggling after being out of school for almost a year. I told his teacher that I would be more than willing to have him come down to my classroom during any point during the day to take a break, be my “assistant,” or just visit.
Over the years, I have discovered that providing this support builds so much confidence, empathy, and compassion in older kids who are given a sense of purpose in aiding younger children. To make a long story short, Kaleb was only at school once this week, but came down to my room while my kiddos were in music. We sat and chatted about life, goals, and family. Before he headed back to his class, I asked him if he wanted to meet my new Kindergarteners. I told my kids that this was my friend Kaleb and he was a big kid who knew all the rules and expectations about walking in the hallway and that he would be watching to see if they did as well. Then I gave him the hand of one of my little cherubs and asked him to specifically help this child. To watch the compassion and tenderness of this terminally ill child as his face lit up to help this little five year old almost immediately brought me to tears. As educators, we have so much to learn from the children placed in our lives every year. I hope that one day, I can be more like Kaleb.